Twelfth Night or what you will //
“I wish you were the way I want you to be.”
A man loves a woman, who he has never seen before. A woman loves a man, who is actually a girl. A girl loves a man, who believes she’s a man. Another man thinks a woman loves him, but it’s all in his imagination. This love mix-up takes place in Illyria, a fantastic kingdom located along the ocean and populated by melancholic, narcissist and foolish figures. They all feel misled by fate and unheeded by love; Duke Orsino loves Olivia, though he has never set eyes on her, which makes her all the more attractive to him. For reasons unknown, she foreswears the world and love and lives a secluded life to mourn her deceased brother. Viola, who has just been shipwrecked on the shores of Illyria, disguises herself as a man for her own protection. She enters Orsino’s service and immediately falls in love with her master. But not only does her love go unrequited, she must visit Olivia as a messenger and win Olivia’s love on his behalf. And she succeeds! But unfortunately, Orsino is not the recipient of Olivia’s love, but the messenger. If that weren’t enough, Malvolio, Olivia’s court master, is tricked into believing that his lady has fallen in love with him. He is tickled by this flattering ‘discovery’ and ultimately makes a complete fool of himself.
Amour’s arrows fly in all directions, but never hit their targets. The beloved object serves merely as a means of self-fulfilment. Fragmented and incomplete, Shakespeare’s characters look for one who can make themselves whole. Their own narcissism has blinded them. Viola is the only one who looks beyond herself for love.
Shakespeare creates a world in which everyone is forced to self-reflect. Who am I? What am I missing? Who can make me whole? The search for identity is the chief motive in his comedy. Rapture, loneliness and lack of orientation influence the overall mood of his characters. Each of them hopes to overcome this state by forming a bond with another person. They hope that love can save them and give them identity. It is a panacea for their distraught souls and the only possibility, or so it seems, to be oneself.
In 2014, we commemorate Shakespeare’s 450th anniversary. Alice Buddeberg will direct Shakespeare’s subtly melancholic comedy at the DNT. Buddeberg, a graduate of the Hamburg University of Music and Theatre, has worked at numerous theatres in Germany, including the Theaterhaus Jena, Theater Bremen, Schauspielhaus Hamburg and the Schauspiel Frankfurt.