Behind the scenes glimpses into the making of Twelfth Night!
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Recommended readings to get you in gear for the show.
Ruben Espinoza, Shakespeare on the Shades of Racism. Routledge, 2021.
Valerie M. Fazel, Variable Objects: Shakespeare and Speculative Appropriation. Edinburgh University Press, 2022.
Elisabeth H. Kinsley, Here in This Island We Arrived: Shakespeare and Belonging in Immigrant New York. Penn State University Press, 2021.
Joyce Green MacDonald, Shakespearean Adaptation, Race and Memory in the New World. Palgrave Macmillan, 2020.
Ian Smith, Black Shakespeare: Reading and Misreading Race. Cambridge University Press, 2022.
Read All About It
New York Times | 2022
Review: A Shot of Joy Under a Darkening Sky
“This is one of those productions that make you feel lucky to be in New York.”
Interview: Kara Young and Carl Cofield
“Our music is going to be unlike anything, I think, that Shakespeare can imagine.”
What’s in a name? One theory is that Twelfth Night got its name because it was first performed for Queen Elizabeth I at a Twelfth Night party – these were all the rage in Shakespeare’s time. The play’s raucous, gender-bending energy reflects the spirit of these festivities, and the Classical Theatre of Harlem brings new life to Shakespeare’s beloved comedy in their award-winning staging.
Twelfth Night festivities live on in the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane, thanks to a gift in actor Robert Baddeley’s will. Baddeley was a character actor at the theatre for 30 years, before his death in 1794. His will stated:
“I HEREBY DIRECT that the sum of One hundred pounds Stock in three per cent Consolidated Bank Annuities may be purchased immediately after my decease… to produce as nearly as possible the Annual Sum of Three Pounds which… I DIRECT shall be applied and expended in the purchase of a twelfth night Cake or Cakes and Wine and Punch or both of them which… it is my request the Ladies and Gentlemen performers of Drury Lane Theatre… will do me the favour to accept on twelfth night in every year in the Green Room…”
That initial £100 has stretched to cover a tradition that is still going strong, 228 years later. Every year on January 6 – with very few exceptions – the company in residence have cake and punch in the green room, and often raise a toast to Baddeley in thanks. Oscar Wilde, Mary Martin, King George IV, and Julie Andrews have all partaken of the Baddeley cake and punch tradition.
Julie Andrews and the cast of “My Fair Lady,” 1959
Learn more about the tradition and Robert Baddeley here.