March 26, 2019

Student-directed Twelfth Night: Impressive Accomplishment

Twelfth Night performers on Academy’s quad. (Courtesy/Dr. Morris)

At 7:30 on Thursday, May 7, senior Anna Shuff ’s adaptation of Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night took place on the Quad and the library balcony. Audience members sat on lawn chairs or blankets spread on the ground. 

Twelfth Night’s full script takes close to three hours to perform, so Shuff chose an abridged version that allowed for an hour’s worth of a performance. Stuff’s production is her senior project.

Students from all four grades acted in the show, wearing costumes reminiscent of the 1920’s era. They brought Shakespeare’s comedy to life, drawing laughs from the audience.

All the performers and Shuff in her role as director were dedicated to making the show the success that it was. Auditions for the play were all the way back in January, and everyone involved had been working hard ever since. Rehearsals took place during zero-period or after school to fit everybody’s already busy schedule.

Based on the audience’s reaction during the show and the many hugs and congratulations shared with afterward, Shuff made all the right decisions regarding her ambitious and successful directing debut.

How did Dr. Morris’s Shakespeare affect your decision to direct this show?

I was reading Twelfth Night when I decided to do it. I had something like this in mind ever since my junior year when I started Shakespeare Club, but I didn’t have any concrete way to execute it until now. Doing Twelfth Night in that class and being able to tie it into that was definitely a factor.

What is the nature of  your Shakespeare Club?

I started it at the beginning of my junior year, and it’s changed a little bit. I originally envisioned it as a kind of reading group, and obviously that didn’t go very well since high schoolers don’t want to do reading that they don’t have to do, which is fair, so this year we actually turned it to more of watching and talking about adaptations, and that went over a lot better.

Why Twelfth Night?

I chose Twelfth Night because it’s one of my personal favorites out of all of Shakespeare’s plays. My initial vision was to have an all-female cast, and that didn’t end up panning out, but the play is so concerned with gender that I thought exploring it through an all-female lens would be interesting. Even when that didn’t work out, the cast I had was the best possible cast, and I’m so thrilled. 

Thank you, and Congratulations, Anna!

Cast (in order of appearance)

Jay Whitney’21                     Duke Orsino

Jack Reifeis’18                     Valentine/Sebastian/Officer

Mira Bhasin’ 19                     Viola

Liana Shiroma’18                  Captain/Andrew/Priest

Sophia Tidwell’19*                Malvolio

Sarah Morris’18                    Sir Toby

Sidney Edson”19                  Feste

Aylah Mendenhall’19            Olivia

Rebecca Taylor’20               Antonio

(Poster and program designed by Sophia Tidwell)