Saturday, September 25, 2010

MC Hammer - U Can't Touch This

Malvolio, the Puritan of Twelfth Night is gulled by the clowns into wearing yellow stockings that are cross-gartered. They also fool him into constantly smiling while in Olivia's presence.

In Twelfth Night: The Shakespeare Club, the student playing Malvolio is similarly gulled by her classmates. Only instead of cross-gartered stockings, they convince her to wear yellow Hammer pants and dance for them.

This song came out in 1990--two years after our play takes place, but it is an example of the type of dancing he did and the infamous Hammer pants.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Trip through the 80s - The New Wave

Under the original plan for doing the full "Twelfth Night" in the 80s, the musical emphasis would have been on New Wave music with each of the two households representing a different strain of New Wave (which I'll let Mr. Redman comment on further).

Trip through the 80s - A Video Compilation (HQ Version)

We're including a fair amount of 80s music in the script, though Mr. Redman has been merciless in cutting them out where they drag down the plot. Here is a quick look of the top 10 songs of 1980-1989. For many of us, it brings back a lot of memories. But they're also good to look at for hairstyles, dance moves, clothes, accessories, etc.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Puritans & Televangelists

In "Twelfth Night: The Shakespeare Club," the student who plays Malvolio has her own way to modernize the part. Rather than playing him as the Puritan the script describes, she's playing him as a televangelist. Her line:

(haughtily) Puritans are totally bogus. They’ll make people think of Salem witch trials and grody stuff like that. I’m playing Malvolio as a televangelist.

The Salem witch trials are fairly well-known, particularly because of Arthur Miller's The Crucible. They are a part of our modern culture and Krista is correct that people tend to associate Puritans with witch trials.

Historical Puritans

However, the Puritans were not simply superstitious folk who were settling America during its early history. They formed in England as a theological splinter of the Church of England--believing that the reformations that separated the Church of England from the Catholic Church did not go far enough. They were active during the reign of Elizabeth I--Shakespeare's time--and were very anti-Catholic.

The term "Puritan" was first applied as an insult--and Shakespeare continues to adopt that policy, with people using Puritan as a way to insult Malvolio. There are rumors that Shakespeare or his father might have been a hidden Catholic--to be an open one invited a sentence of death or exile. If so, that would explain one reason Shakespeare consistently ridiculed Puritans. Another reason is that Puritans believed that the theater was evil and frequently campaigned that the London theaters be closed down--thus taking away Shakespeare's livelihood.

Malvolio as a Televangelist?

Does Krista's comparison of Malvolio and Puritans to the televangelists of the 80s hold true? It's certainly an interpretation that could be defended. Puritans shared some things in common with televangelists of that period: Both believed that Christians should live by the standards of the Bible and should read the Bible with great devotion and frequency. They both had elements of anti-Catholicism, with some televangelists going so far as to claim that Catholics aren't Christians or that they are a cult.

Just as televangelists called on people to live a holy life that excluded drinking, dancing, gambling,movies, and other pleasurable vices; Puritans were known for preaching the same. Both promoted conservative lifestyles and harangued others to do the same.

While many televangelists were devoted ministers who were simply adapting to new mediums, the 80s were filled with the scandals of those who used their religion for their own personal gain. The video below shows some of the televangelist scandals that rocked the 1980s.

Hey, where did it go?

I know I made a blog post on Monday. Where did it go?

Friday, September 17, 2010


Twelfth Night's second scene has Viola and a sea captain talking about how they survived a shipwreck. In Twelfth Night: The Shakespeare Club, set in the 80s, the young man fiddling with the boom box has missed most of the conversation--but he catches the word "shipwreck," and has this exchange with his classmates:

Mike: Shipwreck? My little brother just got that action figure.

Debbie: Not the GI Joe character, dipstick.

Mike: Why not, Debbie? It’d be awesome. I could play the captain as a sailor in the U.S. Navy instead of some hoser in tights with an eye patch. (getting excited) Then we could totally set it on Cobra Island instead of Illyria! That would be righteous!

(There is a pause as his fellow students look at him as if he’s grody to the max.)

Debbie: Dude, you’re such a nerd.

For those of you too young to know what Mike is talking about, take a look at the videos below. His action figure even came with a parrot. And no, neither Mr. nor Mrs. Redman had a Shipwreck action figure, but if anyone wants to donate one to our silent auction, we'd be happy to help you declutter!

Oops, the photo got a little big. Guess I'll have to work on uploading photos.

In the mean time, I'm happy to report that we have a first draft for the first half of the play. It will still need some clean up and the students have been very good about finding things that don't work (it's pretty awesome to have 12 editors when you're writing on the fly).

I'm going to start introducing the characters (at least what I know about them so far). Later, I will introduce each actor through an interview.

In "Twelfth Night: The Shakespeare Club," much of the main plot revolves around a love triangle between three characters: Tony, Jenni, and Krista.

Jenni is a senior who has been dating Tony for a few years. The actress creating her is working on her back story and I'll share it here if she gives permission. The play starts the afternoon after she and Tony have broken up. Jenni is an intelligent, down-to-earth person who is actually glad that the fall play is Shakespeare. She's researched the play and is able to answer the questions her fellow students have about it. She also has a sense of humor, but it is quieter and doesn't come out in the clownish fashion that others display. Her role in the play is Olivia, but through the course of our play, she ends up filling in for other students and their roles as well. As the high school drama takes people on and off the stage, students will end up playing multiple roles.

Tune in this week for more character intros.

Some photos

This is a photo of Maria and Sir Toby Belch from a "Twelfth Night" done at Bath Community Theatre Guild, directed by Karl Paananen several years ago.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Words, words, words, pt. 2

"Eat my shorts!"

You hear that and you probably think of the Simpsons, right? Of course, right. (Wait, Fiddler on the Roof was last year...)

However, Matthew Groening, the creator of the Simpsons, borrowed that phrase from an earlier source--a movie that was the quintessence of 80s culture: The Breakfast Club. It was a member of the Brat Pack that would say the line, paving the way for the Simpsons.

Here's a clip of the line as it first appeared:

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Animotion - Obsession

This song makes a brief appearance in "Twelfth Night: The Shakespeare Club." Some students are mocking one of their classmates. They think it is the perfect song for Orsino whom they say is obsessed with Olivia, but not in love with her.

I'm just the playwright and it is the director who will block, but I sure hope he uses some of the very 80s dance moves from this video.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

BBC Shakespeare Animated Tales - Twelfth Night - Part 1

Words, words, words

Throughout the script, the students use a variety of 80s slang. I'll provide a little information about that slang periodically, eventually hitting on all of the words in the script.

Barf Me Out--This was very much a part of Valley Girl slang, though non-VGs used it too. It had several variations including "gross me out," "grody" and "make me barf." It was, as the words imply something that makes the speaker feel ill or that they think is disgusting. A Valley Girl might say that if she didn't like what you were saying. It often had "Like," in front of it.

It appeared in Frank Zappa's song, "Valley Girl."

Chill! or Take a Chill Pill--This is another term that comes to us from the Valley Girls. It's a way of telling someone to calm down or relax. Usually the person to whom it is being said has lost his or her temper or is acting in an extreme emotional manner.

Tomorrow I'll post part two of the animation from the BBC and then introduce a few of the characters--both in the traditional Twelfth Night and in our Twelfth Night.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Valley Girl Song

"Twelfth Night" at Waverly High School

When auditions last week brought in not quite enough actors of both genders to perform William Shakespeare's "Twelfth Night" in the traditional manner. So Director Richard C. Redman decided to adapt the play with the help of his wife, Bridgette.

The new version of the play (which they began writing Sunday and hope to have done by the end of the week) creates an almost Breakfast Club-style format. A group of students are meeting in a garage to work on the Homecoming Float for their theater class. The float is for "Twelfth Night." Several of them are complaining about having to do Shakespeare and they then begin acting out many of the scenes.

There is also a secondary plot to Will's main work. This plot will involve the students and be a partial mirror to the original plot.

Here is the character list as it stands now:

Paige Graham: Jenni, she ends up directing many of the scenes while playing Olivia; she also sometimes plays Feste
Rachel Weinfeld: Liz who plays Viola and Sebastian
Robert McConnel: Tony who plays several roles but primarily Orsino in the beginning and Toby Belch most of the time.
Phil Frank: Mike who plays the sea captain, the early Andrew Aguecheek scenes, and Feste in some scenes.
Kelly Patterson: Krista plays Malvolio
Lindsey Blair: Debbie plays Maria, sometimes fills in for Sebastian
Morgan Smith: Stacey is the understudy for Maria and later plays Orsinio
Rachel Spidle: Heidi who plays Antonio
Analislia Tupper: Heidi who is on the tech crew, but they convince her to read for Aguecheek, she also plays First Officer.
Jzhyia Woods: Kimberly who plays Curio and second officer
Sarah Herbruck: Cyndi who plays Valentine and Fabian

EDIT: As this is a work in progress, the character descriptions have already changed. Once the script is done, I'll try to introduce each character--or ask the actors playing the characters to introduce themselves.