A group of students from UCLA’s School of Theater, Film, and Television are currently encoring their production of Twelfth Night at the Hollywood Fringe Festival, following a brief but very successful run on campus. In this Shakespeare classic tale of mistaken identities, audience participation is not only encouraged, it is often unwillingly imposed, so beware! Director Will Block fills us in.
Will, why did you decide to produce Twelfth Night at the Fringe?
The play is incredibly relevant in today’s cell phone obsessed society. All of the characters are so caught up in preserving their own sense of self that they neglect forming personal relationships with anyone around them. Viola and Sebastian serve as a disrupting influence that causes the characters to begin to genuinely reach out to each other, with variously happy and disastrous results. I think this reflects where we are today. My generation, thanks to social media, is so caught up with perception, and less so with communication.
Is there anything particularly unusual about the show?
There is no fourth wall in our production. The actors very much play this play with the audience, not for them or to them or at them. We think this is how these words need to be spoken – acknowledging the audience allows everything to become more active – and it’s a practice that’s becoming rarer and rarer.
Why would fringe-goers love to see it?
This production is full-blooded and bare bones. There are no scenic elements and few costumes. This places a greater emphasis on Shakespeare’s words, and the line of the narrative itself. We think Fringe-goers will appreciate this, as well as our extensive audience participation (get ready to dance).
For tickets and more information go to http://hff16.org/3606.