Have you ever imagined what would happen if the gender of main characters in a story were changed? Some will chuckle as the change in gender itself creates a funny situation. People do not have to limit their imagination to an illusion; they can directly observe the situation through the performance called Trans Twelfth Night. Based on the original play of Twelfth Night written by William Shakespeare, the performance not only gives an opportunity for people to reexamine the original work but also have entertaining moments.
When it comes to Shakespeare, what most people come up with is his five main tragedies such as Hamlet and King Lear. As there is too much focus on tragedies, it is likely that other Shakespeare’s well-written plays especially comedies are not recognized. To induce the public to be aware of other pieces, the performance called Trans Twelfth Night is being played in Daehakro. Since the year of 2014 is 450th anniversary of Shakespeare’s birth, the performance tries to make the public appreciate works of Shakespeare.
Twelfth Night is one of the famous comedies written by Shakespeare. It talks about how twin siblings, Sebastian and Viola, survive after a shipwreck and eventually meet together in the end. After the shipwreck, Viola lands in Illyria Island. In order to survive in the new place, Viola disguises herself as a man and starts in the service of Duke Orsino. In the original play, it is the woman who is dressed up as a man and act masculinely. However, in the performance, Trans Twelfth Night, the opposite happens. Just like the original play of Shakespeare, twin siblings, Bike and Sevas, appear. The difference is that the male sibling is dressed up as a woman and serves under the Queen Osia in Illyria Island.
Queen Osia falls in love with one of the nobles named Oli. However, Oli rejects the proposal of Osia. As a result, Oli sends Bike, who is dressed up as a woman, to act as an intermediary between Osia and Oli. Surprisingly, Oli instead falls in love with Bike, not knowing that the gender of Bike is male. So, the performance is basically dramatized by changing the gender of the main characters and deals with how love is crisscrossed between them in the play.
If the performance had the same storyline and characters, it might have been mundane to the audience since there are not any intriguing points in the play. Through the change of the gender, the performance completely overturned the audience’s expectation. To make the audience keep concentration on the play, Trans Twelfth Night continuously adds humorous contents such as deceiving one of the butlers to believe that Oli is in love with the butler. Also, Bike portrays delicate movements and makes high-pitched sounds to act like a woman.
Because of the twist in gender, some of the characters in the play are different from the original play. In the original play, Antonio, a friend of Sebastian, acts as a very faithful friend. However, in the performance, a new character named Anne appears and tries her best to protect and save Sevas from dangerous situations. It seems like Anne has deep affection towards Sevas instead of having a strong friendship. The appearance of a new character and portraying quite different emotions make the performance more intriguing.
▲ More information about the performance, Trans Twelfth Night, is included inthe poster. Provided by upkorea.net
If the play has too much of jocular scenes, it might downgrade the value and seriousness of the performance as well as the original play. To assure that the play is actually based on the classical work of Shakespeare, many of the actors’ dialogues included lines that can be seen in the classical piece of literature. When Osia proposes to Olio, she says “I will yield my soul to you” which is quite different from the dialogue used in contemporary society to propose someone. With the appropriate blend of humor and literary expressions, the performance Trans Twelfth Night successfully reflects the unique characteristics of Shakespeare’s original work.
By changing the gender of the main characters, the performance seems to suit the taste of the public in contemporary society. It is more common these days to see a man dressed up like a woman than a woman disguised as a man. People seem to more enjoy seeing a man in make-up. Especially in comedy dramas or entertaining TV programs, mostly it is the men who are dressed up like women to make people laugh. Trans Twelfth Night, therefore, twisted the original work in order to fit the gag code of modern people by making a man look like a woman.
▲ Actors are trying to convey similar characteristics of characters in the originalplay. Photographed by Park Ji Won.
It is very common that classical literary works are dramatized and parodied often in modern society. It is because people get inspired by those classical pieces of art. Through re-illumination of classical works, people feel the connection between the present and the past. Just like in the Trans Twelfth Night, the scenario is altered to fit the taste of the public to the extent that would not distort the original value of the Twelfth Night.
Some people who are unfamiliar with Shakespeare’s comedies might be surprised by the storyline. However, through various distinctive facets of the play, they can soon realize the value of Shakespeare’s play. Among numerous romantic comedy plays performed in Daehakro, Trans Twelfth Night has its uniqueness in that it not only promotes people to appreciate other Shakespeare’s works but also delights people’s eyes and ears.