by Olivia Canter
On Friday, November 16th, the Varley Players of Byram Hills presented Twelfth Night, a comedy by William Shakespeare. All of the actors, crew members, and directors did a beautiful job as the performance was captivating, exciting and humorous. Everyone in the audience was smiling from ear to ear.
The production featured a brother and sister that were shipwrecked off the shores of Illyria. They were separated, and Viola, the sister, must pretend to be a man in order to earn a living in Duke Orsino’s home. Excitingly, the plot highlights a love triangle, with loads of mischief, confusion, and a happy ending.
Sophomore Gabi Coronel, who played the role of Orsino’s court and a guard, explains the show in a modern way. She says, “Twelfth Night is basically the inspiration for the Amanda Bynes movie She’s the Man. So if you like that movie, you will like the Shakespeare version of it too. I thought the show was a good show for people to do if they want to go into theatre, as Shakespeare provides challenging language and acting.” Nevertheless, the Varley Players persevered through the difficult dialogue and presented an excellent show.
In fact, stage director John Anthony Lopez explains in the program pamphlet, “Every time I direct Shakespeare I find new things, hints at character or theme, jokes or beauty that I missed the time before. Sometimes I find it myself, but, often, and best of all, it is found by the actors.” This statement proved true as the drama program performed Twelfth Night marvelously. The students’ magnificent performance captured the remarkable themes Shakespeare intended to portray.
Tyler Cermele, a senior, expands upon the excellent performance. Playing the role of Sir Andrew Aguecheek, he exclaims, “The show was really interesting, and it is definitely not just any other Shakespeare play. It is funny. It has drama. And it has all of these different emotions. You just don’t feel like you are sitting in the audience. You feel like you are there, and at least I felt that way.” Touching the audience through emotion is a crucial part of acting, and it was especially important due to Shakespeare’s complex scenes.
Junior Emory Cohen builds upon the notion on Shakespeare’s complex lines. He says, “It is very difficult to understand Shakespeare, but the way the theatre program put it on was great. It was very easy to comprehend and get across to the audience, without understanding every individual word.” Thus, even though the language was challenging, the audience was able to grasp the plot and emotion of each captivating scene.
Along with a wonderful execution, the Varley Players truly enjoyed their experiences. Junior Alex Dempsey explains, “what I really liked about Shakespeare was that you received a whole new perspective. For example, when you do the contemporary shows, you don’t get to dive as deep into it as you could with Shakespeare, where there are many different interpretations.”
Behind the scenes, the crew did an amazing job. Jordyn Bernard, a sophomore, describes that she was part of “construction crew for 2 months before the show, and then [she] was part of the run crew.”
A special shoutout to John Anthony Lopez (Stage Director), James Gulick (Assistant Director), John Flanagan (Lighting Designer), Danielle Brooks (Scenic Foreman), Amy Menasche (Production Assistant), and many others for making this beautiful production possible.
The large efforts and tenacity of the theatre program impressed the audience, once again, with the wonderful performance of Twelfth Night.