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Twelfth Night, Shakespeare 

Красноярский ТЮЗ, Krasnoyarsk, Russia

"I would you were as

I would have you be."

The play starts with a shipwreck. Stepping on the unknown shore of Illyria, full of grief for her twin brother, who had probably drowned, Viola in search for protection disguises herself as a man and joins duke Orsino's service. As his new messenger her task is to conquer the heart of the unreachable duchess Olivia - what Viola in fact successfully fulfills; but unfortunately not in favor of her master, but unwillingly in her own. Olivia head over heals falls in love with the outlandish youngster Cesario, alias Viola, who herself already lost her heart secretly to Orsino. This entanglement can only find its solution with the appearance of the lost twin Sebastian; but still the love intoxication leaves all characters with a terrible hangover.

In Shakespeare's festival comedy „Twelfth Night“ the gender roles and also the social hierarchy are turbulently twisted upside down. The title of the play refers to the climax of the Elizabethan carnival in the days following Christmas, when the traditional order willingly was suspended, women were wearing men's clothing and masters were serving their servants – an euphoria, a furious outburst of all passions, until the break of dawn, when everything and everyone had to be put back to its own place.

Passion is one of the central motivations in the world of the play; a nearly insatiable longing to love and to be loved. But this passion mostly is narcissistic, only directed at itself. In Shakespeare's Illyria love is not a self-forgetting feeling dedicated to another person, but on the opposite an egoistic wish to complete oneself by annexing someone else; if necessary also against the loved one's interests. Here wooing for love resembles campaigns of conquest; the opponent's resistance has to be broken, has to be overthrown.

This selfish approach to love, which most of all characterizes Orisino and Olivia, also can be understood as an indication of a elementary discontent and loneliness. The world is not able to fully satisfy its inhabitants. In Illyria nobody is working or even showing interest for politics or society, here everyone is only busy with their own passionate longings. But those are only rigid poses, not vivid feelings. The status quo only is set in motion with the arrival of Viola, since it is her, who is able to drag Orsino's as well as Olivia's attention away from their permanent self-adulation.


The attraction, which both feel towards Cesario, alias Viola, differs from their brittle conceptions of love. It is so delicate, that Orsino does not even seem to become consciously aware of it – and still is not able to withdraw himself from Viola's charms. His affection for her sparkles in every moment of their meetings, totally different from his alleged often much too loud declared love for Olivia, which seems to be based much more on a romantic phantasm, than on actual emotions. Viola's appearance melts the frozen poses of desire and refusal and spreads chaos all over Illyria – at least until the twelfth night finally reaches its end and the excess has to fade away in favor of the new restored order.

starring: Elena Kayzer, Olga Buyanova, Victor Buyanov, Alexander Dyakonov, Vladimir Myasnikov, Anatoly Puzikov, Sawwa Revich, Anatoly Kobelkov, Angelica Zolotareva, Wjatscheslaw Ferapontov, Alexander Tscherkassov, Akim Bislimov

stage and costume design: Nadezhda Osipova 
translation: Ekaterina Raykova-Merz

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