TWELFTH NIGHT or What You Will

by Wm Shakespeare

1 play:4 roles - Feste, Orsino, Malvolio, Sir Toby

ActorsNET (2017)

role: Sir Toby Belch & co-director

produced by ActorsNET, Inc

The Heritage Center

Morrisville, PA

March 10 - 26, 2017

Directed by George Hartpence & Dale Simon

set design - George Hartpence

costumes - Louisa Murey

lighting - Andrena Wishnie

Shakespeare`70 (2011)

role: Malvolio

produced by Shakespeare`70

at the Kelsey Theatre on the campus of

Mercer County Community College

July 1 - 10, 2011

directed by Frank Erath

assistant directed by Janet Quartarone

set design by Dale Simon

rehearsal photography by Rick Kowalski

WestWind Rep (1998)

role: Orsino

produced by WestWind Rep Company

on the grounds of The Hun School, Princeton, NJ

July 2 - 11, 1998

directed by Dale Simon

Shakespeare`70 (1993)

role: Feste

produced by Shakespeare`70

@ Washington Crossing Open

Air Theater

June 10 - 19,1993

directed by Frank Erath, PhD

Cast Lists

TWELFTH NIGHT - Synopsis

"And what should I do in Illyria?"

Viola and Sebastian, twins, are separated during a shipwreck. Viola, thinking her brother dead, finds herself stranded in Illyria. She disguises herself as a man, Cesario, and enters the service of Duke Orsino, who is in love with Olivia and who sends Viola/Cesario to woo Lady Olivia in his behalf. Orsino does not know that Viola has fallen in love with him. Olivia is indulging in a seven-year season of mourning for a dead brother and is refusing to accept the advances of any man. Her sorrow is not so profound, however, as to keep her from falling in love with the disguised Viola. She is so in love, in fact, that she later sends a Cesario/Viola a ring and invitation to return and then admits her love for “him.”


Of Olivia’s household, only her steward, the melancholy Malvolio, finds a morbid pleasure in the atmosphere of mourning which Olivia has decreed. Her uncle, Sir Toby Belch (who lives in her house), doesn’t believe in grief; he spends his time drinking with Olivia’s clown, Feste, and his dupe, Sir Andrew Aguecheek, a wealthy but foolish knight.


Because Malvolio is so arrogant, Maria, Olivia’s chamber woman, plots with Sir Toby, Aguecheek, and Feste to get even. This they succeed in doing by means of a forged letter supposedly from Olivia, duping Malvolio into wearing yellow stockings cross gartered, which she detests. Malvolio’s unaccountable antics cause Olivia to think him mad, and Sir Toby and Maria have him committed to a dark room.


Meanwhile, Viola’s twin brother, Sebastian, unaware that Viola is still alive, arrives in Illyria with a sea captain, Antonio, who is an outlawed man in Illyria. Antonio lends his purse to Sebastian and parts.


Seeking more “sport,” Sir Toby presses Aguecheek and Cesario/Viola into a duel. Antonio rushes to rescue the youth, whom he believes is his friend, Sebastian, and is arrested by the duke’s men and met by Cesario/Viola with a denial that he/she ever saw him or his purse.


Now Aguecheek rushes to complete the duel with Cesario/Viola but encounters Viola’s twin brother instead who quickly wounds the knight. Olivia interferes and leads Sebastian to a priest and (thinking he is Cesario) marries the surprised young man.


Antonio is brought before the duke and creates some confusion by relating his adventures with Cesario/Viola, who he still thinks is Sebastian. Olivia adds to the confusion by entering and claiming Cesario/Viola as her husband.


Sir Andrew and Sir Toby in the meantime have had another encounter with Sebastian; they enter wounded and blame their hurts upon Cesario/Viola. Everything is finally made clear when Sebastian himself appears and the company sees Viola and Sebastian, twins, side by side. Viola promises to assume her maiden attire to prove her identity as Sebastian’s sister. Orsino, remembering Viola’s many expressions of affection, is content to abandon his hopeless love for Olivia and marry Viola. Sir Toby marries Maria for her wit, and only Malvolio remains single and seems dissatisfied with the happiness of the others.

TWELFTH NIGHT (2017) at ActorsNET

role: Sir Toby Belch & co-director

produced by ActorsNET, Inc

The Heritage Center

Morrisville, PA

March 10 - 26, 2017

Directed by George Hartpence & Dale Simon

stage manager - Emma Ricciardi

set design - George Hartpence

scenic artist - Joe Kemp

costumes - Louisa Murey

lighting - Andrena Wishnie

sound operator - Isaiah Davis


CRITICAL PRAISE:

Stuart Duncan writes for The Princeton 

Packet TimeOff entertainment section:


  

"Twelfth Night" is being presented by ActorsNET of Bucks County through March 26, this is one of the finest productions of any work in many years.  It showcases a stunning veteran company, superb direction, and the kind of confident presentation that comes from polished actors completely trusting each other on stage. 


"Twelfth Night" is a great comedy, and this production has a superb cast, strong direction, and the kind of stage confidence that lets you know instantly that you're about to see something special.

Cat Miller as Viola/Cesario

curtain call burgomask dance

TWELFTH NIGHT – Director’s Notes – George Hartpence

George Hartpence as Sir Toby Belch & Ken Ammerman as Sir Andrew Aguecheek

Another comedy about twins, another gender bending pants role, another course-of-true-love-never-did-run-smooth mix-up, another subplot of less-than-noble rowdies, disguise, mistaken identity, and love tokens.  Exaggerated love begetting exaggerated melancholy, exaggerated mourning fostering exaggerated wooing, and exaggerated priggishness begetting exaggerated comeuppance. Must be Shakespeare!


I am so happy to have been given the opportunity to stage Twelfth Night for the ActorsNET.  Written at the height of his powers (just after Hamlet), this play was first performed in 1602.  But, to paraphrase, this play is not of an age but for all time.  It is a celebration of music, passion, poetry, and most of all - love.  To my taste, Shakespeare’s most delightful comedy.


This will be the fourth production of Twelfth Night on which I have worked and it allows me to complete a quartet of coveted male roles in the show – Feste, Orsino, Malvolio, and now – Sir Toby Belch.  For this occasion, I decided reset the play to a more romantic, elegant but not too removed time period.  An age whose appeal is attested to by its popularity in every other BBC drama telecast in this country.   Also, since the play begins with a shipwreck, I reasoned why not use the most famous ship wreck in history to anchor the play in time and place.  Hence, the ship carrying the twins Viola and Sebastian became nothing less that the RMS Titanic.  And since there is a notable pirate involved in the play, I thought well let's introduce some alternate reality in the form of a lurking U-boat (the sea’s most deadly “pirates” of the time - as they would prove not so long after the Titanic went down) off the coast of Illyria as a potential cause for the leviathan being sunk.  And so we were settled in Edwardian/pre-WWI Europe.  And incidentally, the remaining shows in this season at the NET are also set in that same relative time period.


This play holds a mirror up to nature to show us that everyone is susceptible to becoming a fool for or in love. It can strike us at any age or at any time.  In fact, love should not be attempted by the young, fool hardy or faint of heart. It is a powerful force to be reckoned with.  In particular, the idea of unrequited love, and the pain and heartache it can bring is a major theme in Twelfth Night.  It can make us irrational, impulsive and temporarily insane! The lengths that Olivia goes through to obtain Cesario for her love, the pain Viola endures in wooing Olivia on behalf of the man she adores, and Malvolio’s giddiness at the prospect of being married to Olivia is as delightful as it is painful to witness. As Malvolio says, “Fortune, all is fortune”; we are anything but in control of our Fancy and while Fortune smiles on some, it leads others into folly, bitter disappointment, even madness.


I am grateful to my brilliant cast and the many people who have worked so hard behind the scenes to transform ActorsNET into the magical realm of Illyria.  Finally, I want to thank my co-director – whose presence allows me to join in the on-stage revelries – as well as being immersed in the off-stage creative duties of a director.

George Hartpence as Sir Toby, Susan Fowler as Maria & Chris Capitolo as Fabian

Barry Abramowitz as Malvolio and Carol Thompson as Lady Olivia

Critical Praise

Read the full review by Stuart Duncan in the Princeton Packet below, as well as an interview of George Hartpence and Cat Miller by Ted Otten for the Times of Trenton.


Stuart Duncan writes: 

"George Hartpence brings years of acting to the role of Sir Toby (he also co-directed and handled the set design). Dale Simon also co-directed, and these two have found small pieces of fun that are often missed.

Sir Andrew is superbly realized by Ken Ammerman who has been playing major roles for many years and here brings down the house as the weak-kneed wannabe hero. Feste is played by Mort Paterson, a veteran of TV and musicals, mostly in Philadelphia. 

Carol Thompson is exciting as Lady Olivia. Susan Fowler steals scenes as Maria, Olivia's servant. Cat Miller, who is in her 14th season with ActorsNET, plays Viola.  Barry Abramowitz, yet another veteran… is first-rate as the much abused Malvolio."

STAGE REVIEW Princeton Packet Twelfth Night (pdf)

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Theater_ 'Twelfth Night' at Morrisville's Heritage Center _ NJ.com (pdf)

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Twelfth Night "condensed" by Joe Kemp

"Saved by the Boobs" by Joe Kemp

TWELFTH NIGHT (2011) for Shakespeare`70

role: Malvolio

produced by Shakespeare`70

at the Kelsey Theatre on the campus of

Mercer County Community College

July 1 - 10, 2011

directed by Frank Erath

assistant directed by Janet Quartarone

set design by Dale Simon

rehearsal photography by Rick Kowalski

George Hartpence as Malvolio

George Hartpence as Malvolio & Heather Duncan as Olivia

Let the Punishment Suit the Crime!

by Diana Major Spencer

Twelfth Night: Another “twin” comedy, another pants role, another course-of-true-love-never-did-run-smooth mix-up, another sub-plot of less-than-noble rowdies, disguise, mistaken identity, and love tokens—in short, another Shakespearean romantic comedy. With “identical” male/female twins to add confusion and gender innuendo to the action, this delightful confection romps along through exaggerated love begetting exaggerated melancholy, exaggerated mourning fostering aggressive female wooing, and exaggerated priggishness leading to—a suitable comeuppance? Ay, there’s the rub in this favorite comedy: The punishment doesn’t fit the crime.


Its superior subplot features Malvolio (whose name parses as “Ill Will”), Steward of Olivia’s household. A priggish Puritan, he deigns to squelch the partying of at least two of his social superiors, Sir Toby Belch and Sir Andrew Aguecheek—both of whom also sport character-defining surnames (Belch, self-explanatory for an imbiber; Ague-, a fit of chills and shivering; cheek, with no particular textual suggestion, my mind always conjures “nether cheek,” for a moniker of “quivering ass”). Granted, Sir Toby and Sir Andrew need reminders about disturbing the peace, yet Malvolio’s manner of reproof provokes Sir Toby’s best line in the play: “Dost thou think because thou art virtuous there shall be no more cakes and ale?” (2.3.114–16; all line references are to The Riverside Shakespeare, ed. G. Blakemore Evans [Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1974]).


Sir Toby, a Falstaffian type, loving food, drink and roguishness, funds his extravagances by extorting largesse from Sir Andrew, through his promise to facilitate Sir Andrew’s wooing of Olivia, whose hospitality, respectability, and mourning mode Uncle Toby has rudely abused. Sir Andrew’s primary functions in the play are to finance Sir Toby’s amusement and say, “Me, too” and “Me, neither” in every conversation. He can also be manipulated for Sir Toby’s amusement, as in the phony duel with Cesario (Viola).


Maria, Olivia’s devoted servant and the final member of Sir Toby’s clique, seems level-headed and good-natured, seconding Malvolio’s cautions, but condemning his supercilious, sour-puss manner. She calms the over-rowdy Sirs by creating a delicious, rollicking revenge against Malvolio: a seductive riddle of a letter-from-pseudo-Olivia to be dropped in his path. The prideful, ambitious, social-climbing Puritan will surely follow Maria’s instructions to his own well-deserved humiliation.


Unfortunately, however, Toby’s back-talk in act 1, Maria’s bogus letter in act 2, and Malvolio’s preening in act 3, lead to an objectionable scene in act 4, scene 2, the so-called “torture scene,” where Malvolio is confined in some kind of dark space, rather poorly enduring Feste’s demeaning proofs that he’s insane. No matter how convincingly the actor portrays extremes of pain, frustration, and desperation, watching the begrimed Malvolio, wearing a distressed costume and writhing in anguish, just isn’t funny. He may be excruciatingly insufferable and fully deserving of unspeakable comeuppances, but seeing him onstage shifts our attention—and thus our empathy—to the prig we so recently scorned, and away from the genial pranksters we were cheering for against the hypocrite Puritan. The practical joking of that good-natured coterie of flamboyant carousers descends to very cruel and most unusual punishment, even though nothing about their prior behavior suggests meanness. Even the prank setting up a duel for two thoroughly reluctant and inept duelers aimed only for some good belly laughs, never for physical harm.


Still, isn’t that the scene as Shakespeare wrote it? Not necessarily, argues Becky Kemper, presenter at the 2007 Wooden O Symposium here at the Utah Shakespeare Festival. After citing several onstage examples of horrendous cages and dungeons designed for Malvolio, she states, “These images of torture seem out of place in Illyria” and “rob the audience of a satisfying conclusion” (“A Clown in the Dark House: Reclaiming the Humor in Malvolio’s Downfall,” Journal of the Wooden O Symposium 7 [2007], 42). Prior to the Romantic age, says Kemper, critics and diarists applauded Malvolio as “truly comic” and the “tricks” played on him justifiable. In time, however, “great tragedians specialized in playing the emerging star turn of Malvolio” (43)—great tragedians who might demand additional onstage time not afforded earlier Malvolios because of adherence to the original stage directions.


The first known printing of Twelfth Night is the First Folio of 1623, in which the scene of Malvolio’s “torture” places the stage direction “Malvolio within” on a separate line before Malvolio’s first speech. Nowhere does “Enter Malvolio” appear in the scene. In other words, he’s off-stage throughout the entire scene. The 1987 Complete Oxford Shakespeare follows the First Folio, but my 1974 Riverside Edition includes “within” as part of Malvolio’s first speech: “Mal. (Within.) Who calls there?” My 1952 G.B. Harrison and 1961 Hardin Craig Complete Works place “[Within]” inside the speech block, but with brackets and no period. In none of these three editions does within appear anywhere else in the scene, possibly suggesting that Malvolio remains off-stage for just that one line before his confinement device is dragged onstage or lifted through the trapdoor.


As further indication of Malvolio’s absence from the stage, Kemper notes in her provocative paper that Feste’s performance in the scene falls into two parts. First, Sir Topas questions Malvolio’s sanity and perception of darkness, using pseudo-religious arguments to dismiss Malvolio’s protestations. At this point, Maria says, “Thou mightst have done this without thy beard and gown. He sees thee not” (4.2.64–65, emphasis mine), suggesting either that Malvolio’s dark room is somewhere other than onstage or that he’s blindfolded. Toby then speaks to Feste: “To him in thine own voice, and bring me word how thou find’st him,” indicating that Malvolio in not within view. Toby continues, “I would we were well rid of this knavery. If he may be conveniently deliver’d, I would he were, for I am now so far in offense with my niece that I cannot pursue with any safety this sport” (4.2.66–71).


The “knavery” Sir Toby intended is described in act 3, scene 4, shortly after Malvolio, smiling and cross-gartered over yellow stockings, has presented his “Be not afraid of greatness” speech to Olivia. She leaves when her servant announces “the young gentleman of the Count Orsino” (3.4.57–58), and Malvolio remains to be mocked for his “lunacy” by Toby and Maria. He storms out, calling them “idle shallow things, I am not of your element” (3.4.123–24). Sir Toby recommends putting “him in a dark room and bound. My niece is already in the belief that he’s mad. We may carry it thus, for our pleasure and his penance, till our very pastime, tir’d out of breath, prompt us to have mercy on him” (3.4.135–39). “Knavery,” “sport,” “pleasure,” and “pastime” fall far short of torture.


The second part of the “torture” scene, according to Kemper, recalls act 1, scene 5, where, after an exchange with Feste, Olivia asks, “What think you of this fool, Malvolio?” (1.5.73). Malvolio sneers, “I marvel your ladyship takes delight in such a barren rascal. . . . Unless you laugh and minister occasion to him, he is gagg’d. I protest I take these wise men that crow so at these set kind of fools no better than the fools’ zanies” (1.5.82–89). In act 4, scene 2, after returning to Malvolio as himself, Feste badgers Malvolio on his pitiful state of lunacy until Malvolio becomes a “wise m[a]n that crow[s] . . . at these . . . fools,” who is thus, “no better than the fools’ zanies”: “Fool, there was never man so notoriously abus’d. I am as well in my wits, fool, as thou art” (4.2.87–88, emphasis mine). Touché, Feste!


Having witnessed star actors portraying the pitiable victim of whips and chains—even maces and chain-saws—I’d welcome an alternative version of the “torture” scene to compare the overall continuity of tone between the two productions. The trade-off, of course, is that Malvolio would likely not entice your greatest star, but become the supporting character he’s supposed to be.


  • Line references to The Riverside Shakespeare, ed. G. Blakemore Evans (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1974).
  • Becky Kemper, “A Clown in the Dark House: Reclaiming the Humor in Malvolio’s Downfall,” Journal of the Wooden O Symposium 7 (2007): 42-50.

TWELFTH NIGHT (1998) for WestWind Rep

role: Orsino

produced by WestWind Rep Company

on the grounds of The Hun School in Princeton, NJ

July 2 - 11, 1998

directed by Dale Simon

Critical Praise

Excerpts from the Town Topics of Princeton review:

July 8, 1998

Westwind's "Twelfth Night" Is Intelligent & Imaginative, Relying on Shakespeare's Humor, Magic and Language 


With just a semi-circular stone balustrade, tall evergreen trees and the stately school architecture as a backdrop, Dale Simon has directed Twelfth Night simply, intelligently and imaginatively. He and his seasoned professional cast have understood that this timeless play speaks for itself about men and women and the many strange and wonderful manifestations of love. They have provided clever stage business and much richly nuanced detail to flesh out characters and relationships, but have wisely relied on Shakespeare's humor, magic and poetic language without undue embellishment.


Universal Loves and Longings

Simon has set the play in the English country-side in the 1920s and thereby transformed Shakespeare's exotic seacoast of Illyria into something more familiar and more easily evoked by the Hun School campus setting. What could be a diminution of potentialities here only serves to show once again the play's extraordinary resilience and the power of its language to create In the Imagination of the audience whatever settings are necessary. The universal loves, longings and human foibles of the characters of Twelfth Night ring equally true to life In ancient Illyria, In Elizabethan London, In post World War I England and in suburban New Jersey of 1998. As Feste explains, "Foolery, sir does walk about the orb like the sun; It shines everywhere."


Ms. Hatch's Viola/Cesario Is appropriately vigorous and appealing, comfortable and convincing. In a range of modes from high romance to high comedy. She delivers several of the most affecting moments of the evening, when she shares her distress and her deepest emotions through asides and soliloquies spoken directly to the audience.


Laura Jackson presents an authoritative and charming Olivia, first appearing in somber black, mourning the death of her brother, then transforming into a girlish, flirtatious, even lascivious young woman in love. "How now?" she wonders. "Even so quickly may one catch the plague?

George Hartpence, nattily attired — first in tweed coat and vest, then in blazer, boater hat, white pants and bow tie, then in formal dinner clothes — is a smooth, thoroughly self-absorbed, thoroughly aristocratic Duke Orsino.


Leading the carousers and carrying the Twelfth Night spirit of the play — "I am sure care's an enemy to life!" Brian Bara creates a rich, hilarious, three-dimensional Sir Toby, consistently in character, indefatigably thirsting for wine and revelry. He is complemented expertly by Tom Orr's delightfully foolish Sir Andrew. Together they have worked out the kind of comical, well-timed stage gesture - each of them seem resounding with vitality and credibility.


Rob Pherson plays an appropriately dour, supercilious Malvolio — "O, you are sick of self-love, Malvolio, and taste with a distempered appetite," Olivia declaims — and provides several comic highlights of the play as he falls for Maria's forged letter, aspires to the love of Olivia, and is willing to put on yellow stockings, crossed garters and even a strained and ridiculous smile In pursuing his beloved.


Janet Quartarone as a female Feste, described in the program as "a woman of adventure," first appears in aviatrix cap, leather flight jacket and long flowing scarf, then later in off-beat flapper's garb with pearls, beret and sleeve garters. The eccentricity is not inappropriate to this character, and Ms. Quartarone delivers Feste's devilishly difficult lines with confidence, expression and clarity

TWELFTH NIGHT (1993) for Shakespeare`70

In which I become the Lady Olivia's fool

role: Feste

produced by Shakespeare`70

@ Washington Crossing Open Air Theater

June 10 - 19,1993

directed by Frank Erath, PhD

Shakespeare`70 at the Open Air Theater in Washington Crossing Open Air Theater. 

I had a more world-weary, melancholy fool in mind, but the director saw Feste as a perfect fool, so on we went with the doublet & hose, fools-cap and marotte. 

Feste the jester, it was.

It was fun learning to juggle, tho...

Apologies for the poor quality photos.  They're blurry, no-flash shots surreptitiously taken during performance.

 George Hartpence as Feste 

This is pretty much how the "court jester" interpretation of Feste was received by the critics.


Must say, I agreed with them.

The Lady Olivia's Fool

Carol Thompson (seated) as Olivia

Sue Tapper (rear right) as Maria

George Hartpence (center) as Feste 

Cap and Bells...