Twelfth Night Restaged

June 2, 2015 / by Emily Lyon, Classical Directing Fellow


Growing up as a Shakespeare nerd in Washington, DC, I saw Rebecca Taichman's beautiful Twelfth Night at the Shakespeare Theatre. I remember at the end of the first act thousands of red rose petals dropping from the sky; I popped a few into my purse which still live in a box at my mother's house. With that fantastical moment, it was clear how much Orsino, Olivia, and we, too, over-romanticize love. And of course, how seductive and fun it is to do so. 
Now, I'm lucky enough to be sitting next to Rebecca as she restages that production. Barry Edelstein, the Artistic Director of the Old Globe, essentially said that Rebecca's Twelfth Night captured the play more completely than any other version he'd seen. And now, we're trying to recreate that effect with new actors, new designers, and several years of life experience later. 
I've never restaged one of my shows, or directed the same play for the second time, so I've been curious as to what the process would look like. Though that first production did transfer to the McCarter Theatre, it was a remounting, not restaging. Rebecca says that this is the first time she's really directing a piece again, and she's been very aware of balancing what worked then with what we have now. 
"Your impulses are important to me," she often says to the actors. It's very clear that she's working with them, with what is authentic to their experience of each scene, rather than revising what she did earlier. She just happens to have a leg up in knowing what did and didn't work last time. In fact, we have archival videos of the last production, but it wasn't until the end of our second act -- a scene with very specific comic blocking -- that she asked me look at it and note what she did. Even then, that information was used as ideas, not guidelines. 
From watching the "willow-cabin" speech alone, I can tell we have a very different play on our hands. But it's beautiful, authentic, and staying true to the passionate heart of the text. 
I can't wait to see what we end up with...