Shakespeare Goes Digital: Students Performed Reading of ‘Twelfth Night’

Shakespeare Goes Digital: Students Performed Reading of ‘Twelfth Night’
Brittany Rockenfeller

In yet another first for Blair Academy, the Blair Academy Players presented a virtual reading of William Shakespeare’s classic Twelfth Night. To watch the performance, please click "play" below:

Nearly 20 students had been working on the production before they left campus for spring break in early March. When the COVID-19 pandemic necessitated the transition to distance learning a few weeks later, director Craig Evans, who has taught theatre and English at Blair since 1994, had to develop an alternative way to share the fruits of students' labor. With actors sheltering in place on three continents, the virtual rehearsal process for Twelfth Night proved to be a fun challenge for all involved. 

“The most interesting part of rehearsing a virtual play, especially a Shakespeare piece, is having to change how I deliver lines and interact with the other actors,” said Victoria Crow ’20, who plays Olivia. “There’s a disconnect when acting through a computer, which means we’re lacking the relationship you have in person with your scene partner. That was something unexpected, but it’s been a great challenge to conquer.”

One of Shakespeare’s most-performed comedies, Twelfth Night presents a tale of love, gender-changing disguise and harsh pranking of the pompous. Duke Orsino of Illyria is in love with Olivia, but she rejects his advances. A shipwrecked Viola arrives on Illyria’s shores, and, with the help of a Captain, disguises herself as a boy, calling herself Cesario, and enters Orsino’s service. Orsino comes to trust Cesario, and sends “him” to woo Olivia for him. Viola realizes to her dismay that Olivia has fallen for her Cesario rather than Duke Orsino—further complicated by the fact that Viola is falling herself for Orsino. Meanwhile, a group of rascally characters make the haughty Malvolio believe that his mistress, Olivia, is in love with him. At the same time, Viola’s twin brother, Sebastian, has survived the shipwreck as well, and, helped by Antonio, a former enemy to Illyria, comes upon the scene and, of course, is mistaken for Cesario.

"We try to perform a Shakespearean play once every few years," said Mr. Evans. "Experiencing a Shakespearean play in an outdoor setting is ideal, but I know the students will have an equally memorable experience virtually this year."

Cast & Crew:

Duke Orsino of Illyria - Ryan Gomez ’20
Olivia - Victoria Crow ’20
Viola - Olivia McLaine ’20
Captain - Audrey Sacks ’20
Sir Toby Belch - Jonathan Lee ’20
Sir Andrew Aguecheek -  Omar Ali ’20
Maria - Madina Shabazz ’20
Fabian - Abigail Morris ’20
Malvolio - Marc Lui ’23
Sebastian - Sid Mehta ’21
Antonio - Jake Tran ’23
Olivia’s Jester - Nick Callan ’23 

Annie Mulholland ’20
Kelsey Jackman ’20
Savannah Lee ’20
Christina Enodien ’20