Tuesday, February 18

Globe Theatre does Willie in drag

There has been an enormous buzz surrounding William
Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre and its rendition of
“Twelfth Night.”

In anticipation of the production’s West Coast debut at
Freud Playhouse Wednesday night, students and Bard enthusiasts at
UCLA noted that Shakespeare remains the No. 1 reason why they are
seeing the play.

“(Shakespeare) is an amazing playwright,” said
second-year English student Kristin Crawford. “But I think
that the most important thing is that his themes, ideas and
messages are still relevant today, 400 years later. That’s
why an audience will struggle through three hours of Elizabethan
dialogue ““ they know there’s something there for them,
something to satisfy.”

Fans, however, are excited about more than just being treated to
yet another rendition of one of Shakespeare’s best works.
UCLA English professor David Rodes is hoping to see how the smaller
venue enhances the intimacy of the play.

“I think a small venue is better,” said Rodes.
“The performance space in London is outdoors so the actors
had to shout to make people hear them.”

Adam Burgasser, a post-doctoral fellow in the Department of
Physics and Astronomy, was once in a production of “Twelfth
Night” and looks forward to seeing it done by the
world-renowned Globe Theatre.

“These (actors) are among the best, of course, especially
the guy whose supposed to be playing Olivia,” said Burgasser.
“I have high hopes they’ll pull it off well.”

That guy would be Mark Rylance, who is also the
production’s artistic director. Rylance has been collecting
rave reviews like pennies. His cross-dressing performance is
arguably the highlight of the Globe Theatre’s revisiting of
original Shakespearean practices.

“One of the mysteries of the theater is that it can let
you travel through time,” said Crawford, who watched the
Globe Theatre perform in London as part of a study abroad program.
“In recreating an all-male cast, the effect of that time
travel is even more stunning. After all, Shakespeare knew his
actors would be in drag ““ and he took every opportunity to
make fun of his own actors cross-dressing “¦ If the cast
consists of both genders, like most modern performances, we
actually lose an entire dimension of Shakespeare’s

Though she is curious to see an all-male cast tackle female
roles, fourth-year English student Jennie Vongvith points out the
benefits that have come about since women were allowed on stage in
England after the Restoration in 1660.

“I like seeing women on stage, and I think they belong
there,” said Vongvith. “Women definitely have a strong
presence in the theater of today. More and more great roles have
been and are being written for female leads. But in the case of
Shakespeare, we know that the female roles were actually originally
written for boy actors.”

Rodes believes “Twelfth Night” is a fitting play to
explore the idea of cross-dressing.

“The female roles were originally written for young boys,
which the (current) actors are not,” said Rodes. “The
play has a boy dressing up as a woman, trying to pass as a boy.
Realism was not on the top of Shakespeare’s agenda. We should
know we’re in a play.”

“Twelfth Night” runs from Oct. 22 to Nov. 2 at
Freud Playhouse. For more information on tickets, call (310)
825-2101 or visit www.uclalive.org.

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