Shakespeare makes Pitt stop
Carl J. Bachus
PSU’s Campus Activities Center (CAC) is gearing up for a night of mistaken identity and unrequited love with The American Shakespeare Center’s (ASC) performance of “Twelfth Night” at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, March 14.
Directed by John Basil, the program is part of the Performing Arts and Lecture Series (PALS).
Shakespeare’s “Night” tells the story of Viola, a shipwrecked socialite who poses as a man and falls in love with her employer. All the while, the employer is courting another woman who has fallen in love with Viola’s male alter ego.
“Is this William Shakespeare’s real take on love? Or does he believe that love is foolery?” Basil asks in his director’s notes. “I believe ‘Twelfth Night’ makes a great case for the latter.”
The ASC was founded in 1988 as the Shenandoah Shakespeare Express by Jim Warren and Ralph Alan Cohen, and first performed “Twelfth Night” in 1991, alongside “Measure for Measure” and “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.”
The theater company makes use of principles authentic to European Renaissance theater, such as universal lighting, double casting and live backing music.
“When actors can see an audience, they can engage with an audience,” reads the bio on the ASC’s official website. “And audience members can play the roles that Shakespeare wrote for them — Cleopatra’s court, Henry V’s army, or simply the butt of innumerable jokes.”
Basil, the ASC’s guest director, is also the producing artistic director for New York’s American Globe Theatre. He explained that the play is laden with celebration, “merrymaking and madcap behavior” and described Shakespeare’s work as “a feast of the epiphany.”
“Everything is upside down in ‘Twelfth Night” and mistaken identity is commonplace in this world,” Basil said. “Are we mad, fools or a little bit of both?”
The PALS program has been part of Pitt State since 1984 and has featured such guests as comic book writer Judd Winick, Chicago-based improv group Second City and the dance company Step Afrika!
“The idea is just to try and do things that enhance the arts experience while you’re in the Pittsburg area,” said Eva Sager, CAC program coordinator. “The students are our target audience but we also want to bring in acts that generate interest or cultural awareness for the community, as well.”
PSU is one stop on the ASC’s “Tempt Me Further” tour, where they are performing “Twelfth Night” as well as “Love’s Labour’s Lost” and “The Duchess of Malfi” in select performances through April.
“PALS’ goal is just to open the door for students and community members and making sure they have a well-rounded community art experience beyond the wonderful performances that we have here already,” Sager said.