Seeing Double…

_0899037259And some times triple! Folks have been returning to Twelfth Night not just to see the rained out second act but also because they so enjoyed their first outings and wanted to share the delicious summertime fun with friends and family.

Much of the smart silliness of the script comes from the madcap mismatching of the twins Viola and Sebastian. The pair are played by Chicago actors Lucy Carapetyn and Luke Daigle who spoke with us about their experience playing almost identical, initially inseparable, separated by shipwreck, separately rescued, severally confused, similarly adored, and finally reunited twin brother and sister.

Neither is, in fact, a twin, but each has two siblings to whom they are very close. Both have an older sister and Lucy is often mistaken for her sister, Anna, which proves for an occasion of delight. They share many vocal patterns and mannerisms with their mother which makes them, Lucy reports, hard to distinguish one from the other and people are often confused.  Luke’s military family moved around a great deal and so a strong bond was forged among the siblings. Both report that having dear, close siblings added so much to playing “the emotional circumstances of the play.”

_7783503607Both have known several sets of twins and both have, despite knowing each of the twins well, mixed them up. Luke dated an identical twin and confessed he had several “very funny stories about mixing up the woman I was dating with her sister” including once while riding a train. Both did their own research, a love they share, on twins when preparing for the production.

And did they study each other and establish a “back story”? Indeed they did. Both say they studied the other and have incorporated the filial mannerisms into their performances.

Lucy says that as Viola she also found herself, “adopting the mannerisms of Orsino’s other servants to fit into the physical world immediately around me. Lavina (Jadhwani, Twelfth Night director) and I talked about Viola being pretty good at the disguise; we didn’t want it to seem a ‘put on’ or performative. I happen to have played several ‘masculine’ characters in the last year or two, so I was starting from a pretty comfortable place physically. Luke and I also get along really well and are similarly playful in our physicality, so the delight in finding each other each night is really truthful.”

When asked about working in outdoor theatre, Luke explained that he “practically grew up on an outdoor stage. In high school I apprenticed with the Idaho Shakespeare Festival. I then spent three summer with them and a summer each out of doors with Idaho Rep and Montana Shakespeare Festival”

Nor is the experience of ‘updated’ Shakespeare novel to either. Of it Luke says: “It’s amazing to see how the same characters carry through the ages and touch upon the same themes we experience 400 years later.” Lucy is a member of the Chicago-based Two Pence Theatre which, she states, “considers what the important elements are in the world of the play, then we build a setting that emphasizes those ideas.”

As to their plans for the autumn, Lucy reports that her company “is in our second year of the Fall Festival of Shakespeare: Chicago, and we are thrilled with the responses our programming has gotten so far. Our philosophy for working with high school students is this: adolescence is an incredibly volatile time emotionally, physically, and intellectually, and no writer ever has captured the depth of the human experience quite like

_3321515193Shakespeare did. Teens are in many ways better equipped to handle Shakespeare’s language and themes and characters than some of us who have our lives a little more “figured out.” When Shakespeare was writing, English was a very young language; he was inventing words ALL the time. Similarly, teenagers are constantly inventing slang, redefining familiar words in ways that only other teens understand, creating a language of their own. When we get students to understand the ties between their language and Shakespeare’s they become empowered to understand it in a whole new way. They no longer need to be ‘told’ what a play means, they can experience it in their own bodies and mouths with ease and a great deal of joy. We are also huge proponents of the idea that Shakespeare wrote PLAYS not literature, and that the texts should be explored on their feet, and experienced in our bodies. There is a place for scholarly intellectual approach, but plays are meant to be played.

_4789127362And Luke will be going directly into his understudy duties for Lifeline Theatre’s Killer Angels. The assignment delights him, a self-confessed history buff whose favorite period is the Civil War. “When not onstage at Festival Theatre, I am in the Timeline rehearsal room learning from a great group of actors under Matthew Miller’s direction. He has some wonderful ideas to connect our modern audience to the Civil War and to dust off the history books in our brains.”