Story by Danny Rivera/Viking News/@dannyriveralbcc
Prince speaking in Iambic Pentameter. Annie Lennox swapping gender roles. Duckie from Pretty in Pink reciting old world prose.
These and other meldings of pop-culture icons with classic performance works are set to debut Friday, March 10, as LBCC’s Theater Arts department performs William Shakespeare’s comedy Twelfth Night in the LBCC Auditorium.
While developing his concept, director and LBCC professor Anthony Carreiro used the stylings of the 1980s New Wave and hair metal scenes to give a modern take on Shakespeare’s 17th century story about a love triangle involving a cross-dressing lead character.
“[We’re] taking Shakespeare’s original words, his original story – not changing a thing about that,” said Carreiro. “but I chose Twelfth Night because it’s about gender identification, and the glam rock of the era was really open about androgyny and gender fluidity, which fits in well.”
Kassie Howard, 19, a Theater Arts major, said her portrayal of the lead characters Viola and Cesario took some getting used to.
“It’s very different, because there are certain things the characters say that don’t match at all with the time period,” she said. “But I find it wonderful to work with because it is so challenging, it’s such a wonderful task to work on.”
Other performers are finding their character’s voice in the show’s music, as many of them weren’t even born until years after the 80’s were over.
“Initially I was doing a lot of research with the music and movies,” said Benjamin Earl, 25, an English major playing Duke Orsino, Viola’s love interest. “There’s a channeling of Lenny Kravitz and Prince here, but to carry the 80’s aspect and merge it with the Shakespearean language makes it difficult but fun.”
“I was born in ’97, so I wasn’t even close to that era,” said Howard, “but I grew up listening to it because my dad and brother were constantly listening to it. So when we started playing the songs, I was like ‘I know that! I know that!’”
“I was really surprised how many of my students relate to the 1980s music, they have me saying ‘Dude, you weren’t even alive yet!’” said Carreiro.
According to Carreiro, this large production was done to give the students one final experience before the auditorium is closed for renovations over the next two years.
But he also believes more LBCC students can be turned onto Shakespeare’s work with some fresh, modern context.
“If there’s something that they can identify with – be it music or a look – my evil plan of getting new fans of Shakespeare will have worked.”