Rebecca Taichman’s Ever-Evolving Relationship with Twelfth Night

An interview by guest writer Evan Henerson

When the subject is Shakespeare’s bittersweet comedy Twelfth Night, the metaphors and analogies come easily to director Rebecca Taichman, who uses words like “epic,” “complex,” “Mozartian” and “perfect.”

“It’s truly bottomless,” she says. “I thought I knew everything about the play, and I just keep unpeeling layers.”

Rebecca Taichman directs The Old Globe's 2015 Summer Shakespeare Festival production of Twelfth Night, June 21 - July 26, 2015. Photo by Jim Cox.

She speaks from the experience of having already de-onioned quite a bit of the shenanigans of Viola, Orsino, Olivia and company. The production that opens this weekend to kick off the Old Globe’s 2015 Summer Shakespeare Festival is Taichman’s second go-round following a 2009 production at Shakespeare Theatre in Washington DC which subsequently moved to the McCarter Theatre. Going back even further, Taichman played Viola as an undergraduate in a production at McGill University while still, in her words, “a pup.” Taichman, who had acting aspirations before turning to directing, does not give her rendition of Viola glowing reviews. “My memory of the experience is that I didn’t understand the play at all,” she says.

The 2009 production, on the other hand, took home glowing notices for both its performances and for its visual palate. The Old Globe opportunity came about after she was approached by the company’s Artistic Director Barry Edelstein who had seen the Shakespeare Theatre/McCarter production and inquired if Taichman was up for reimagining it for an outdoor staging at the Lowell Davies Festival Theatre.

Taichman was eager to reexamine and reconnect. “I think there’s a similar heart and it’s told from a similar point of view (as the previous production),” she says, “but it’s also extremely different. The first step was a conversation with the design team on how we could make what we did better and really maximize the outdoor space.”  More

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