‘Shipwrecked and separated from her twin brother, Viola washes up on a strange shore and into an even stranger situation. Disguising herself as a man called Cesario, Viola finds work with Duke Orsino, only to fall head over heels in love with him. But Orsino is in love with Olivia, who is grieving for her brother and refusing all romance. Until, that is, she sees Cesario for the first time. Add one ambitious butler and some practical joking servants and you have a hilarious story of heartbreak, hoaxes and hidden identities’.
First Encounters have created a play of Twelfth Night to give 9-13 year olds a first look at Shakespeare. Using an adapted version of the language of the play they bring the texts to life on stage over a 90 min performance.
At the beginning of the play, each of the cast members introduces themselves and explains their part in the play. They talk about the language used and explain to the audience how it differs from that used today. They explain that whilst the youngsters may not understand all of the language used they can still follow the plot through also observing actions and body language. In my view they succeeded admirably in conveying the story in this way.
I took three 9 year old boys to see First Encounters Twelfth Night and the cast did a marvellous job at drawing the boys into the play.
Through music, lots of action, drama and most of all plenty of humour, the 90 minute show had the audience enthralled. Whilst my boys did struggle to follow aspects of the story from the language used alone they did laugh along and participate with the cast at the appropriate times.
A few of the actors doubled up to play two roles and this happens seamlessly with quick costume changes and a skilful change in their character which was really impressive.
The cast did a fantastic job at keeping the audience entertained. The simple but majestical setting and the fast pace of music really sets the scene of the desert island where Twelfth Night is set.
Whilst the show is aimed at ages 9 and above I personally feel this would be more appropriate for 12 plus.
Through the play First Encounters have opened up the discussion around Shakespeare, Who is he? Why do we still watch his work? What other plays did he write? This sparks an interest for children before a time at school when they would ordinarily study Shakespeare as part of the curriculum. We were talking about Shakespeare all the way home as a result!
First Encounters passion for Shakespeare and their knowledge about his works shines through in the work they have done with Twelfth Night. A fantastic way to introduce children to Shakespeare’s work and one I would recommend.