This Friday, Umble Center’s doors will open to present the first showing of Goshen College’s fall mainstage: “Twelfth Night: Or What You Will.” The play is a staple of Shakespeare’s canon, and GC’s production has a backdrop of London in the 1980s with a post-punk twist.Director Amy Budd, assistant professor of theater, said that her idea for this rendition has been waiting for 10 years and it seeks to emphasize and explore the gender issues in the play.
“Goshen College is the place to be thinking about gender,” Budd said. “I really enjoy working to figure out how to use Shakespeare’s language effectively in a contemporary context.”
Sarah Bailey is a senior theater major who is stage managing the show. “The thing I’ve enjoyed most about this show,” they said, “is the creativity that so many people have brought forth. We have an awesome production team.”
Phillip Witmer-Rich, a junior English and music double major, is playing Duke Orsino, the arrogant and lovesick nobleman, and said, “It’s just fun. Getting into my costume and makeup last night was so fun.”
“This character is one that I feel like I can relate to and resonate with in a lot of ways,” he said. “Maybe that’s not necessarily the best, but it’s just true.”
Mairin Mendoza, a sophomore theater major, is used to smaller roles in productions, but for “Twelfth Night,” she is playing the main character, Viola. Mendoza described the process as “stressful, but rewarding.”
“What I’ve liked the most is just hanging out with the cast,” Mendoza said. “This is my first main stage here at Goshen, and I was scared coming into it, but … the tech crew and the performance cast — they’re all very welcoming and they’ve made the process easier for me.”
Jocsan Barahona Rosales, a junior music and theater double major, is playing Sebastian, Viola’s twin who provides a lot of the show’s humor.
“Because Shakespeare is already hard to understand as a non-experienced Shakespeare reader,” he said, “I’ve tried to heighten my physicality and I try to indicate what I’m trying to say through the words.”
The three of them agreed on the biggest challenge of the play: the words.
“Learning the text is definitely a pain,” Witmer-Rich said. “That’s been a challenge, and just having the confidence to feel like I’m actually portraying this character that was written 400 years ago in a truthful way.
“You sort of have to reframe your brain to get in language that was used 400 years ago,” he continued. “I was journaling last night and I was trying to journal in this sort of Shakespearean way.”
Mendoza also worried about memorization. “I’m afraid I’m going to forget my line on stage,” she said, “and then how do I make that up? I can’t just pull Shakespeare out of thin air.”
Despite the old language, the show will maintain a 1980s post-punk aesthetic. Beyond set design and costuming, the show also uses a Spotify playlist made by Matija Margetic, a sophomore film production major who served as sound designer for the show.
“If you come to the show,” Budd said, “you can scan a QR code on the back of the play bill and listen to all the tunes. It’s such a funny detail, but I think people are really going to enjoy it.”