It will be Christmas in August and September as the Shakespeare Theatre Company offers a reprise of its 2008 hit Twelfth Night – so named because it is set on the twelfth night after Christmas – for free at Sidney Harman Hall in the company’s annual Free For All production.
Twelfth Night, a cross-dressing, gender-bending, Malvolio-fooling comedy, played to large and enthusiastic crowds and good reviews two years ago. It is the story of a young woman, Viola, who is shipwrecked in Illyria and who disguises herself as a man in hopes of improving her survival chances. A local aristocrat named Orsino takes her as a servant, and instructs his “boy” to carry Orsino’s suit for Olivia, another aristocrat who won’t give Orsino the time of day. Of course, Olivia immediately falls in love with the disguised Viola. In the meantime, a motley crew including Olivia’s drunk uncle, an incompetent suitor and her nasty jester, Feste, decide to take on Malvolio, her officious prig of a majordomo, and mess him up a little.
The Free For All production will feature Sarah Agnew, fresh from her role in the one-actor, twenty-character play The Syringa Tree, as Olivia. Christina Pumareiga, a McNamara Creative Arts Grant recipient who has done a turn at London’s Old Vic Theatre, will be Viola and veteran Shakespearian Gregory Wooddell, who has appeared here in productions of Othello and The Comedy of Errors, will play Orsino.
Some of the 2008 actors will be returning for the Free for All. Floyd King, who won a Helen Hayes Award for his performance, will reprise his role as Feste. Nancy Robinette will appear once again as the scheming servant who designs the assault on Malvolio, and Tom Story will play Sir Andrew Aguecheek, the incompetent suitor. Of Story’s work in the 2008 production, DCTS said “one of the best things about this production is Story’s emergence as a first-rate actor.”
Shakespeare Theatre Resident Assistant Director Alan Paul will direct. “As a native Washingtonian, the Free For All was always a highlight of my summer, and was the first time many of my friends saw Shakespeare performed.” Paul said. “I have loved being a part of the Free For All as an audience member, so it’s a particular thrill to direct this summer’s production.”
Production dates and times are: August 19-21, 26-28, and September 2-4, at 8 p.m.; August 22, 24, 25, 29, 31, September 1 and 5 at 7:30 p.m.; and August 21, 22, 28, 29, September 4 and 5 at 2 p.m. You can get tickets by showing up at the Harman Hall box office (610 F Street NW) two hours before curtain. Season subscribers and members of Friends of Free for All may reserve tickets in advance. There is more information here.
The Free for All production is principally sponsored by the Target Corporation.