Photo Credit: Hally Everett
As the weather gets warmer and the days get longer, we are all itching for summer. While it’s not summer yet, we can still enjoy the beautiful spring weather on the Quad — celebrating Shakespeare! What is there to celebrate you might ask? This April we are celebrating the 400th Anniversary of Shakespeare’s First Folio! To honor this milestone the Department of Theater and Dance, WCU’s Poetry Center, the Department of English and faculty from the F.H.G. Library Special Collections are hosting a Fortnight of Festivities filled with fun events. The Fortnight began on April 10th and will conclude on April 23rd. What better way to wrap up this celebration then seeing one of Shakepeare’s plays, “Twelfth Night,” performed live outside on the Quad — for free! Sounds like the perfect summer’s day to me.
To honor Shakespeare’s traditional practices, faculty director John Bellomo took a unique approach in producing “Twelfth Night.” The cast of “Twelfth Night” entered rehearsals after winter break completely “off book,” meaning they had to have all of their lines memorized before starting rehearsals. When meeting for rehearsals, they were only allowed to rehearse lines but they were not allowed to run through scenes or rehearse any blocking. The director was also not present for these rehearsals. This process is called “original practice,” which is how the actors would have prepared for a performance during the Elizabethan era when Shakespeare was producing his plays.
I had the chance to interview cast member Laurel Bendetti ‘26 about her experience through this process. The cast of “Twelfth Night” had their first performance on March 22nd without running the show or rehearsing with the director. “It was very scary but I learned a lot and made bigger choices on my feet than I would have made in a regular show.” Bendetti has found this process of learning original practice has allowed her to learn and grow as an actress. “If you pay attention to the show, it is hilarious,” Bendetti continued, “this is a play that is really current and speaks to a lot of people. It’s a really positive show.”
“Twelfth Night” will run in the Mainstage Theatre of the E.O. Bull Center of the Arts Thursday, April 20 and Friday, April 21 at 7:30 p.m., Friday, April 21, 20233 at 7:30 p.m., Saturday, April 22, 2023 at 3:00 p.m. with a special free performance on Sunday, April 23 at 2:00 p.m. on the Academic Quad. Tickets for these performances can be purchased online at www.wcupa.edu/TheatreDanceTickets.
Prior to the final performance of “Twelfth Night,” there will be a Renaissance Faire around the quad with games, face painting, food vendors, sword fighting, art, you name it! Unlike a performance in the Mainstage Theatre, audience members can sit and watch from anywhere on the Quad. Cast member Lauren Kuerschner ‘25 shared with me that while the cast is not used to acting to an audience on four sides, they are excited for the challenges it will bring them. Whether it be intentional or accidental, this performance gives a nod to the Globe Theatre which is the open-air theater associated with Shakespeare. For a full list of WCU Fortnight of Festivities activities, see https://www.wcupa.edu/arts/shakespeare-fortnight/default.
Bring some blankets, chairs and maybe a picnic basket to see “Twelfth Night” on the Quad. With the weather warming up, this is the perfect springtime activity. I hope to see you there!
Josephine Genuardi is a fourth year student majoring in theatre with a concentration in design and production.