Category Archives: Twelfth Night

Podcast 95: Twelfth Night: Directorial Concept, Cast, and Wrap-Up

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This week’s podcast concludes our two month-long discussion of Twelfth Night, with a directorial concept, a look back, and a wrap-up of the play.

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Twelfth Night: midpoint

Using Professor Rodes’ midpoint theory, let’s take a look at Twelfth Night.

There are 2462 lines in in the play, which means the midpoint is at line 1231, or at Act Three, Scene One, line 65. Now, Rodes’ theory postulated that you could find (within twenty lines either way) a speech that perfectly summed up the major theme of the play. The 20-line leeway was to help remove the differences in prose line lengths between individual editions; and in a play with as much prose as Twelfth Night (63% of the lines are prose), this forty-line window seems to be all the more important.

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Twelfth Night: it’s a mad, mad, mad, mad play

So, for the past few days I’ve looked at the meanings and occurrences of some words in Twelfth Night and within the Canon as a whole, “Puritan” and “gull,” in specific.

But there’s another word/set of words/concepts that seemed to be popping up some frequency during my repeated readings: “mad”-man/nessness, and its Elizabethan brethren, “distract.”

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Twelfth Night: Puritanical Shorthand

I’m going to start this post seemingly off-topic.

Last week, Jon Stewart announced his upcoming departure from The Daily Show. Stewart, if you’re going to label him, is a liberal. Now watching the show on television (or online, if you’re a cord-cutter) can be a fairly enjoyable experience, no matter where you sit on the socio-political spectrum. There’s enough stuff there needling everyone, that even non-liberals can find something to laugh at. In person, however, you get a different vibe (even from just listening to the broadcast): here, the audience is a little more rabidly left-wing, as you can tell whenever Stewart ridicules conservative philosophy. It could be said that he doesn’t even have to ridicule conservative thinking, all the has to do is mention it to get a rise out of his audience. “Conservative” for his audience has become a kind a shorthand, encompassing an veritable cornacorpia of political, fiscal, military, and social sins in the eyes of his live audience.

Why do I mention this?

Stewart isn’t the first to do this. I would argue that Shakespeare did it over 400 years ago in Twelfth Night. Only then it was not “conservative” that was the shorthand, bur rather “Puritan” that was the red-meat for the groundlings.

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Twelfth Night: see gull(ing)

Ah, the home stretch of a play’s discussion… you know what that means: concordances and dictionaries.

I love to see how Shakespeare employed different words (and their meanings) in various plays. For today, I’d like to look at the idea of the “gull” and “gulling.”

As a noun, a “gull” is “a credulous person; one easily imposed upon; a dupe, simpleton, fool” (“gull, n.3; 1” Oxford English Dictionary Online. Oxford University Press, December 2014. Web. 15 February 2014.); as a verb, “to make a gull of; to dupe, cheat” (“gull, v.3; 1” OED).

In all the plays of the Canon, Shakespeare uses one form or the other of the word only 11 times. It’s used twice in Henry V, and once apiece in Much Ado About Nothing, Othello, Richard III, and Timon of Athens. That totals six uses. The remainder, all five, are in Twelfth Night.

In other words, almost half of the instances Shakespeare used the word in all his plays happen in this play.

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Twelfth Night: prose, verse, and rhymes (oh my)

In Twelfth Night, as with most of the plays in the Canon, Shakespeare uses multiple avenues to convey his content. In the past, we’ve spent time in this project on the differences between the uses of prose, poetry, and rhyming verse. And yes, we do get some of that nobility-speaks-in-verse/lower-class-in-prose stuff. But what I find interesting in this play are the transition points.

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Podcast 94: Twelfth Night: Bawdy

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[EXPLICIT CONTENT AHEAD… SKIP IF EASILY OFFENDED

OK, let’s start off by saying that despite Eric Partridge calling Twelfth Night “the cleanest comedy except A Midsummer Night’s Dream” (Shakespeare’s Bawdy, Partridge, Eric. New York: Routledge Classics, 2001; page 57), the play is not completely clean… as we shall see…]

This week’s podcast continues our two month-long discussion of Twelfth Night, with a look at the play’s dirty nudge-nudge-wink-wink bawdy.

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Twelfth Night: Stage directions in the verse

Yesterday, I talked a little about finding acting and directing clues (and stage directions) in the dialogue of Twelfth Night. Today, let’s see what we can find in the verse. Even though over half the play is in prose, there’s still enough poetry there to give us a hand. Save for the songs, the vast majority of the poetry is in blank verse (and here’s a good starting point if you need a refresher on iambs, spondees, trochees, pyrrhics and the like… or more than a refresher), and we can use that iambic pentameter, the way it works rhythmically, the variations of its meter, and the way it’s broken up over lines to help us out. And even if the right answers for performance aren’t always in the poetry, it may prompt us to ask the right questions in rehearsal.

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Twelfth Night: Bare, Unadulterated Cruelty

South of the River Thames, sat the entertainments for the Elizabethan residents of London. Circular walls with some seats raised around the edges for the spectators. The Puritans (like Malvolio) hated what was going on in these dens of iniquity.

Am I talking about the Globe, the Swan, the Rose, or the Hope theaters?

Nope.

I’m talking about the bear- and bull-baiting arenas.

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