Rehearsals for Shakespeare’s “Twelfth Night” begin

Zoe Bogarty

Coming soon to Ashland University’s Hugo Young Theatre, several members of the student body will be participating in an upcoming performance of a Shakespearean comedy, called “Twelfth Night” on Nov. 5 through 8.

The play was chosen to be more accessible for both audience and cast members with the many roles needed, and after six years without Shakespeare, students were adamant about having the full experience.

The production will be set in the 1930s as a romantic comedy written by William Shakespeare, following Viola (played by Tiffany Sims), who has been shipwrecked and believes she has lost her brother at sea.

Viola soon dresses up as a boy and finds herself in Duke Orsino’s (played by Tobin Grendzynski) court, looking for someone to take her in to take care of her.

Eventually, she falls in love with the Duke but the duke is actually in love with Oliva (played by Mia Kardotzke), who falls in love with the disguised boy which makes for a fascinating love triangle.

Dr. Teresa Dubin-Ames, an Ashland Faculty Director, has taken a step back from directing the upcoming play to let guest director from Cleveland, Christine McBurney, take the creative reigns.

“She has so much more experience than I do directing and staging Shakespeare, so it was very important to me that we bring someone again who has the expertise, who can help our students: with the text, with the language, and with the physicality of bringing this to life,” said Dubin-Ames. “That is something I am very excited about.”

With COVID-19 making an appearance earlier this year and having the spring show “Odd Couple” moved to this semester, the cast and crew are more than excited to showcase the work they have been doing since the very first week of school.

The cast and crew have taken the time to accommodate for the safety of themselves and others by monitoring their symptoms and health while still making the production happen for AU students to experience a sense of normality in the current world.

Many of the cast members have been expressing their excitement for the next few weeks of practice, welcoming the chance to perform again.

Mia Kardotzke, a cast member and theatre major, urges the community to come. The theatre is doing many things to follow social distancing guidelines and ensure the audience has a great time.

“I think everybody should go and see it,” Kardotzke said. “As of next week, we are starting off-script—I have full confidence in this cast and this crew. Even though it’s going to be social distanced and everyone’s going to be at a different part of the stage, you’re not going to interact with each other physically, you’re still going to get the story and I think everybody has worked hard so that you can still feel those connections, and still see the story happening.”

Together the cast, crew and directors have put their hearts and voices into making the show happen.

After weeks of rehearsing and taking the time to understand the deeper meaning behind “Twelfth Night,” and now they are nearly ready to share that experience with the Ashland community in November.

Tobin Grendzynski, part of the show, expressed what doing a live show means. Offering the performances this year satisfies the desire for live art and a sense of normalcy.

“I am very excited because with [COVID] going on I feel like I am in a withdrawal of doing shows. I’ve only recently done a music review, it was just a cabaret of musical theatre songs, but it just wasn’t the same as actually getting up and being a character throughout an entire show,” Grendzynski said. “I hope we can have a live audience, even if we have to wear masks. Like I just want a live performance so my friends and family can come and see it.”

Camden Edwards, an actor in the upcoming show who will be playing Sir Toby, said, “I am excited, [the show is] really funny and we’re even laughing at each other watching these rehearsals. I just think that people might get intimidated like ‘oh, it’s Shakespeare I’m not going to understand anything that’s going on’, but I say if they give it a shot, they’re going to have a really good time.”

Tickets for the upcoming show can be purchased at the AU Bookstore or by calling (419) 289-5336. Each seat is spaced out to accommodate social distancing, and the audience is required to wear masks throughout the entire performance.