Kamryn Schnieder ~ Copy Editor
The University of Lynchburg Theatre Group held its first outdoor performance of William Shakespeares’ “Twelfth Night” on Thursday, Oct. 1, through Saturday, Oct. 3,
“Twelfth Night” is a comedy about Viola and Sebastian, twins who are shipwrecked and wash up on the shores of Illyria, assuming each other are dead. Viola, disguised as a man named Cesario, begins to work under Duke Orsino, while Sebastian lives on the shore with a woman named Antonia. Three months have passed by the start of the play. As the play continues, romances bloom, misunderstandings blossom, and comedy flowers. There are drunken antics, love sabotages, and false weddings, among other things, as the show devolves into chaos when Sebastian comes to Illyria and interacts with Cesario/Viola’s acquaintances.
The University’s performance omitted a few darker scenes while incorporating a modern twist using dances and songs like “You are my Sunshine” and “Hooked on a Feeling.”
Because of the pandemic the show was to be performed socially distanced, and the wardrobe was a little more improvised than usual. Masks were worn at all times and a fun new prop in the form of a six-foot pole was used to pass items from actor to actor. Aside from minor tech issues, the show ran smoothly. Without a curtain, the scene changes were instead accompanied by a musical and dance interludes.
Elizabeth Martin, a senior who played the role of Viola, explained that while “performing outside is very exciting … you get to act in a space that many have not before, so it is a very new [and] exciting experience.” Rehearsals faced issues such as “wearing masks and social distancing,” which she said “was difficult and certainly a big change. There were frustrating moments when we could not be as intimate with other actors as we typically would be.”
Twelfth Night was chosen, Martin said, because “[the play] is fun and lighthearted, and it was a show that would be easy to socially distance throughout.” Martin also said, “Shakespeare was meant to be performed outdoors, in my opinion.”
Martin added that if COVID persists through other productions, that she would be willing to rehearse and perform another show with the same restrictions because “[t]he world needs theatre right now.”
Lindsay Stanley, a senior, attended the show to “support a friend who was in the [play],” and found the show “good, given the COVID-19 circumstances and social distancing rules.” Stanley did not mind the outside setting. She said, “Seeing a show outside was different. There were more distractions than in the indoor shows, but it was an interesting experience.” She also said that if the next show is outdoors, “[she] will still be in attendance.