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Home :: Archive :: 1994 :: April ::
Re: Malvolio
Shakespeare Electronic Conference, Vol. 5, No. 0345.  Thursday, 21 April 1994.
 
(1)     From:   James Schaefer <SCHAEFEJ@GUVAX.BITNET>
        Date:   Wednesday, 20 Apr 1994 13:37:42 -0400 (EDT)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 5.0341  Re: Malvolio
 
(2)     From:   David McFadden <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 20 Apr 1994 16:03:49 -0400
        Subj:   Re:  SHK 5.0341  Re: Malvolio
 
(3)     From:   Blair Kelly III <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 20 Apr 1994 17:53:59 -0400
        Subj:   Contemporary Twelfth Night and Malvolio
 
 
(1)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           James Schaefer <SCHAEFEJ@GUVAX.BITNET>
Date:           Wednesday, 20 Apr 1994 13:37:42 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: 5.0341  Re: Malvolio
Comment:        Re: SHK 5.0341  Re: Malvolio
 
I like Ken Meaney's suggestion about modern-dress costuming for Malvolio -- the
yellow-tie crowd "inside the Beltway" are an insufferable bunch of Malvolios --
but wouldn't there be a bit of historical inaccuracy?  I don't remember yellow
ties showing up until Reagan brought his gang of neo-conservative riverboat
gamblers to town a decade ago.  My memory of the 70's dressed-up is maroon
leisure suits with white leather boots (of course, that was in Minnesota).
 
Jim Schaefer
 
(2)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           David McFadden <
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Date:           Wednesday, 20 Apr 1994 16:03:49 -0400
Subject: 5.0341  Re: Malvolio
Comment:        Re:  SHK 5.0341  Re: Malvolio
 
The suggestion for Malvolio in seventies gear is a good one, but I'll add this
suggestion anyway: how about having him in a bright yellow jumpsuit? I saw a US
tourist in England last year wearing a bright yellow jumpsuit and he was
getting a lot of disapproving looks wherever he went, from the English who in
general have a tendency to dress modestly in greys and beiges. This fellow said
someone back home had told him a bright yellow jumpsuit would be ideal for his
tour of England. He felt he'd been tricked and was very embarrassed.
 
dwm
 
(3)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Blair Kelly III <
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Date:           Wednesday, 20 Apr 1994 17:53:59 -0400
Subject:        Contemporary Twelfth Night and Malvolio
 
Matthew Vail Smith asks about contemporary productions of Twelfth Night and
especially Malvolio.  I saw such a production.  Here is my journal entry which
describes that production:
 
Let me tell you about the Shakespeare play I saw back on Thursday 28 March
1991.
 
The play was Twelfth Night, and it was performed at the New Victoria Theatre at
Newcastle-under-Lyme/Stoke-on-Trent in Staffordshire.  (The two towns have
grown into each other.)  This was about an hour drive north of Birmingham and
about another hour drive trying to find the place.  The British really do have
confusing one-way ring roads through most of the centers of their towns.  I
usually end up going around three times and I still end up having to stop and
ask someone for directions.
 
The New Victoria is a new theater, as the name implies.  This production of
Twelfth Night was set in the 1960s, and the set was suitably psychodelic
pop-art.  This Duke of Illyria was not a political leader, but rather was the
"The Duke", the rock star!  It's great what you can do with Shakespeare, it's
so flexible!  And they played it for all it was worth, with lots of throw-away
lines added to the play.  At one point the band was tuning up for a rehearsal,
and one of the band members stumbles in and mumbled "Sorry I'm late!" --- great
acting in character!  The director has pretensions as a composer, and there
were lots of original rock songs in a pastash sort of way. To me they were
mostly loud noise with lots of percussion; I think he would have done better
using actual songs from the 60s.  The actors even flogged (sold) records of the
tunes after the performance.  The concept was brilliant, as the 60s were an
exciting time of experimentation and new ideas (like Elizabethan England)
followed by the "Me" 80s.  And Malvolio's line --- "I'll be revenged on the
whole pack of you!" --- beautifully presages this. Somehow it leaves you
wondering where did it all go wrong.  It certainly was a thought provoking
theme, at least for me.
 
The acting was good. I fell in love with Viola and her accent. Regional
theaters seem to not be afraid to leave in accents, unlike the big theaters of
the RSC or London.  From what I heard around me at the interval, it is a
Staffordshire accent.  Everyone was in various stage of 60s dress, from the
wild dress and long hair of the Duke and his band to the more restrained dress
of Olivia's household, with of course Malvolio's being the most conservative of
all.  The fool was a small John Denver type figure.  Antonio was a Hell's Angel
on a motorcycle, followed in the next scene by Malvolio on an old-fashioned
bicycle --- the contrast was excellent, besides explaining how Malvolio can
catch up with Viola/Cesario.  They took some liberties with the text, changing
yellow stockings to yellow loon pants, and adding a P.P.S. (an additional
postscript) to the letter Malvolio finds --- "And I want to see you walk like
Mick Jager."  It was a good laugh as Malvolio strutted off stage like a
chicken, but perhaps too much.  Sir Andrew was not well acted.  I now see that
as being a very difficult role  --- you have to act an idiot without letting on
that you are not.  But on the whole a very good performance with an outstanding
directorial concept.
 
---
Blair Kelly III          
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