The Observer is a student-run, daily print & online newspaper serving Notre Dame, Saint Mary's & Holy Cross. Learn about us.



Saint Mary’s College to perform Shakespeare’s ‘Twelfth Night’

| Thursday, November 9, 2023

This weekend, the Saint Mary’s College programs in theater will have their opening night for this fall’s production of Shakespeare’s “Twelfth Night.” Although in Shakespeare’s days plays were composed of entirely male casts, the Saint Mary’s College iteration of “Twelfth Night” is composed of an all female and non-binary cast.

Alternatively known as “What You Will,” Shakespeare’s “Twelfth Night” is a comedy that is believed to have been written around 1601-1602. It concerns themes of love, mistaken identity and discovery and is centered around the twins Viola and Sebastian, played in this production by senior Mimi Panzica and freshman Grace Brooks, who find themselves separated after a shipwreck. 

After her separation from her twin, Viola dresses as a boy and works for Duke Orsino, who she falls in love with. However, Orsino is in love with the Countess Olivia and sends the disguised Viola to court Olivia for him, but Olivia falls in love with Viola instead. Eventually, Sebastian arrives. Audiences will have the opportunity to discover what comes next this weekend in Stapleton Lounge.  

Chloe Troxel, a freshman marketing and theater double major, said she decided to get involved in the play “to just throw myself out there.”

Editor’s Note: Chloe Troxel is a Saint Mary’s News Writer.

“I wanted to get involved in something that I haven’t been in before, so this is my first Shakespeare production,” she said. Troxel is a part of the player ensemble, the team that helps with transitions and scene set ups. 

Senior theater major Isla Hofmann was also excited.

“It’s kind of a right of passage for an actor to at some point by in a Shakespeare production. So I think a lot of us seniors jumped on the chance to be in it,” Hofmann said.

Auditions for the play were held at the beginning of the school year, and opening night this weekend will be the culmination of months of hard work. Troxel said she has enjoyed “getting to see what goes on behind a Shakespeare play,” and “getting to know the language of Shakespeare.”

Although Troxel said it was difficult to understand at first, due to the confusing nature of Shakespearean English, she  enjoys the comedic parts of the play, particularly “when Feste, the Queen’s jester, messes around with Malvolio.”

Hofmann also noted the difficult dialogue.

“I’ve really enjoyed the challenge working not just with the language but the rhythm of the writing as well,” Hofmann said.

Troxel said as part of their preparation, Christopher Cobb, the college’s dramaturge, translated the antiquated Shakespeare into common, more modern language to help the cast better understand the play.

Cobb is an associate professor of English and environmental studies whose research interests include Shakespearean performance studies. In 2007, he published “The Staging of Romance in Late Shakespeare: Text and Theatrical Technique” through the University of Delaware Press. Cobb also has a professional membership to The Shakespeare Association of America. 

Troxel advises those coming to see the play “to go to it with an open mind.”

“Because it’s Shakespeare, everybody thinks it’s long, and it drags on. But it’s been pretty fun, and I’m glad I’m doing it,” she said.

Hofmann reflected on what this play means to her and others who will act on the SMC stage for the last time.

“It [has] been bittersweet knowing for some of us, it’s our last show together, but it’s been awesome stepping into leadership positions, working with the faculty and seeing my friends do similarly,” she said.

Despite the bittersweet moments, Hofmann said the program is being left in good hands.

“I’ve been really impressed with the amount of underclassman who also auditioned. They’ve been so wonderful to work with and bring such a fun energy to the production,” she said. “It’s been really exciting as a senior to know we are leaving the program in capable hands with the juniors, sophomores and now freshman.”

Tags: , , , ,

About Sally Bradshaw

Contact Sally