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August 8, 2022

Shakespeare in Pronouns

Nine nights of open-air ‘Twelfth Night’ starts July 21

The world’s most popular playwright brings another show to Healdsburg this month—a four-week run of Twelfth Night, by William Shakespeare. 

The comedy is one of several of Shakespeare’s that includes gender-shifting characters, which adds both to the comedy and the modernity of the play. The Raven Players, under the direction of Steven David Martin, intend to double-down on the artifice in some way, as this production is fully titled Twelfth Night (with a twist).

As in several of the Bard’s plays, its elements include love, lust, mistaken identity and bawdy humor—which means its real subject is true love. This production is updated from its original setting in Illyria (on the Aegean Sea) and set in the Roaring ’20s of just a century ago, with period music and dance.

Shakespeare continues to provide inspiration and material for small theater groups like the Raven Players. Last summer, they produced The Complete William Shakespeare (Abridged), a fast-moving parody of all Shakespeare’s plays, at the same venue, West Plaza Park. 

Earlier this year, the Raven Players produced The Book of Will at the Raven Theater on North Street. Again directed by Martin—who also nailed down a lead role—the play by Lauren Gunderson dramatized the collection of Shakespeare’s plays and scripts in the years following his death, leading to the 1623 publication of the First Folio. That influential compilation included 36 plays, among them Twelfth Night.

The performance’s cast includes Dan Stryker, Troy Thomas Evans, Hunter Scribner, Jeanette Seisdedos and Katie Watts-Whitaker.

Performances begin at 7:30pm at West Plaza Park in Healdsburg, on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays through Aug. 6. There are no matinees and no Sunday performances. The park is located in the green behind what was formerly the Bear Republic, along Foss Creek. 

“This production is free to attend (thanks in large part to Barbara Grasseschi and Tony Crabb),” said Raven Performing Arts Theater director Tom Brand. “So, folks can bring lawn chairs and blankets.” As the play is performed during sunset hours, layered clothing is also suggested.

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