Conservatory of Performing Arts

Students get unique opportunity to perform Shakespeare two ways

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Conservatory Theatre Company stages Illyria, Twelfth Night back to back

Above: Students perform in Twelfth Night. Click the photo to view photos from Twelfth Night and Illyria.

Conservatory of Performing Arts theatre students had the unique opportunity to perform both classic and contemporary Shakespearean works back to back during the fall 2011 semester.

The Conservatory Theatre Company presented Illyria, the musical based on Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night, by Peter Mills and Cara Reichel, and Shakespeare’s classic comedy, Twelfth Night.

Performance videos

Illyria gave students, staff and faculty a chance to work on a modern twist of a classic tale.

“I love Shakespeare, so the fact that Illyria is an adaptation is very attractive to me,” said director Scott Wise, an assistant professor in the theatre department. “I think Peter Mills’ score is terrific. I am generally interested in projects that are open to creative design. I like the mix of Elizabethan and contemporary language."

Senior B.F.A. theatre major Jaron Frand, who plays Sebastian, said, “Illyria is a fairly new musical that has not been produced too many times. So for us, it’s like we’re creating a whole new piece ... developing a new work. We essentially have the opportunity to create our own world of characters, based on Shakespeare’s original text. As an actor, I got the chance to create something new while learning about something so traditional.”

Twelfth Night has given the students the opportunity to perform Shakespeare but with a twist — the Conservatory Theatre production is set in the 1920’s in the Hamptons.

Kelsey Boze, a member of the ensemble, said, “I definitely have a better understanding of Shakespeare and his language after doing this show. Especially since Bridget Connors (director of the show and professor in the theatre department) is the Shakespeare queen! Her voice and speech, and text work has made me view Shakespeare in an entirely different way. It is a language of its own and there are so many levels within it. But through rehearsals, we explored the text and now it isn't an obstacle anymore, it's a tool.”

Article by Tess DeStefano, sophomore acting major

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