Shakespeare in the Era of Gatsby and Gangsters

In the Steinman Theatre, it’s as if Calvin Coolidge is in the White House, the Talkies are all the rage in cinemas, and the stock market is climbing toward a permanent plateau of prosperity.

The last LCDS Theater production was the musical “The Drowsy Chaperone,” a period piece and homage set in the 1920s. Director Kristin Wolanin decided to stay in the era of Art Deco and women’s suffrage for tonight’s production of Shakespeare’s “Twelfth Night.” The showtimes are 7 p.m. Thursday-Saturday April 25, 26 and 27, with a matinee at 2 p.m. Saturday, April 27. Advanced tickets are $5 and available here, or $10 at the door.

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“‘Drowsy’ had a very specific look and feel, and this show, while still set in the same time, shows a totally different aspect of that time,” Wolanin said. “This is the 20s of Gatsby, and gangsters, and flappers, and I wanted to explore the different aspects of the decade during the same school year.”

With a sparse, Bourbon Street-inspired set, the show uses the 20s setting not just because the costumes are fun (they are) or because Wolanin wanted to show off her new, old Victrola (she does), but because it offers her cast — all students in her year-long Shakespeare course — a way to engage with the material in a way they otherwise wouldn’t.

“What I want is for the actors to explore the time period. For example, women got the right to vote. How does living through that kind of social change affect someone like Olivia, who’s being courted by one person while she’s in love with another? And the whole idea of ‘dating’ was new. How does that affect how people pursue who they’re interested in?”

While interrogating social norms is a worthy academic exercise, it’s also secondary to putting on an entertaining show. And with a love triangle, mistaken identities galore, and a sanctimonious prig battling a cohort of libertine pranksters, “Twelfth Night” has been delighting audiences for more than four centuries.

Wolanin is sure that streak will continue when the curtain rises Thursday and Saturday night. On Friday and Saturday afternoon, however, a whole different cast will perform, giving audiences the chance to take in the exact same, completely different show.

Seventeen students signed up for Wolanin’s Shakespeare class, a year-long exploration of one play, culminating with the performing of that play. There aren’t 17 parts in “Twelfth Night,” let alone 17 significant parts, so Wolanin double-cast the show. One group will perform on opening and closing night, with the second group tackling the big Friday night and lighter Saturday afternoon performances.

Double-casting means Wolanin is double-directing as well. She seems to enjoy life on the high wire. Or perhaps she’s just acting.

“We’re in the thick of it and it’s total chaos and it’s wonderful!”

Kendall K. is the only senior in the show, and is playing The Fool in the Friday night/Saturday matinee cycle. Her Shakespeare classmates are overwhelmingly freshmen, and Kendall’s prior roles have tended toward the ingenue, so finding herself the veteran, in a starring comedic role “has definitely pushed me out of my comfort zone,” she said.

“Part of what’s been so great about the class is that we’ve taken the time to learn the context and draw new meaning from the text, actually understanding what the lines mean as opposed to just memorizing and reciting the words,” said Kendall. That understanding is especially important in “Twelfth Night” because it’s a comedy, and if the actors don’t get the words, they — and the audience — won’t be able to get the jokes.

Not to worry, Kendall said.

“The whole experience has been a lot of fun, and it’s a funny show.”

Shakespeare’s “Twelfth Night.” Showtimes are 7 p.m. Thursday-Saturday April 25, 26 and 27, with a matinee at 2 p.m. Saturday, April 27. Advanced tickets $5 and available here, or $10 at the door.

Cast and Crew List

CAST

Viola — Sam L.** & Amelia L.*
Olivia — Sarah B.* & Sophie M.**
Maria — Malia C.** & Tess M.*
Sir Toby Belch — Skyler W.
Sir Andrew Aguecheek — Rohan K.** & Laurel M.*
Malvolio — George W.
The Fool — Kendall K.* & Charley W.**
Orsino — Justin K.
Valentine — Rohan K.* & Laurel M.**
Curio — Mira H.
Sebastian — Linnea W.** & Mira H.*
Antonio — Frannie T.
Captain — Taamir B.Y.
Priest — Taamir B.Y.
Officers — Sarah B. & Taamir B.Y.

* — Thursday and Saturday night
**— Friday night and Saturday matinee

CREW

Director — Kristin Wolanin
Stage Manager — Christopher M.
Assistant Stage Manager — Adrien W.
Scenic Artist — Diane Wilikofsky
Lighting Design — Barry Fritz
Master Electrician — Hayden F.
Sound Designers — Justin K. & Skyler W.
Sound Technician — Piper S.
Production Props Mistress — Linnea W.
Production Props Assistants — Taamir B.Y., Malia C., Mira H.
Props Run Crew — Anthony P. & Thomas W.
Production Costumes Crew — Kendall K., Rohan K., Sam L., Laurel M., Sophie M., Tess M.
Costumes Mistress — Katrina F.
Costumes Run Crew — Laura B., Sarah H., Maya R., Sadi S.
House Manager — Jack K.
Usher — Sarah H.
Box Office Production Crew — Frannie T., Amelia L.
Box Office Crew — Carly C., William M., David W.
Set Crew — Shakespeare Class
Publicity Crew — Sarah B., Justin K., George W., Charley W.

An Evening of Relaxed Refinement

Country Day’s first All School Art Show opened Wednesday, with seniors T.J. G. and Elizabeth W. spearheading the project. The pair curated, hung and coordinated the displays and performances that celebrated the arts at LCDS.

Souvlaki Boys served up delicious Greek fare from their mobile kitchen and students, parents and teachers were all smiles as they admired the art on display before settling in for an evening of events featuring the jazz band, string quartet, theater, dance, poetry readings and film, as well as a solo acoustic set by Elliot R. ’16.

Looking at kindergarteners’ and juniors’ pieces hanging side-by-side, T.J. said, “It is wonderful for Lower and Middle school students to feel that their work is just as important as Upper School students’. Hopefully, this will become a new tradition.”

Andiamo! (Let’s Go!)

By Madison B. ’17
Photos by Julia R. ’17

Emerging from the Naples airport into the fresh Mediterranean breeze, Lancaster and its foot of snow seemed far behind us. After all, 20 students and three LCDS teachers had crossed an ocean, mountain ranges and several other countries to reach this point, so we nodded and agreed: We had earned some fair weather.

Jackets shed, sunglasses donned, cameras on; we were ready.

We met our unforgettable tour guide, Stephania, and were off. She gave us nonstop facts and anecdotes about Italy through a tinny microphone as the bus rocked on its wheels around every corner, whizzing us through Naples toward Sorrento.

 

With the bus swaying to the tune of Stephania’s musical accent, Italy first seemed more like a dream than reality.

Everywhere we looked, the scene begged for its own postcard: the colorful little block houses with their laundry out on the line, the orchards polka-dotted with their famous lemons and oranges, the sea shore rocky and blue. And it was only the first day.

With Stephania in the lead, we navigated sheer cliffs on our way to Sorrento proper, where we made the first of many gelato breaks and learned Stephania’s favorite word: “Andiamo! We would say it a lot on the fast-paced journey that followed. It means, “Let’s go!”

The itinerary for our first full day in Italy called for “dramatic seaside views” of the Amalfi coast. We were not disappointed — despite having a special bus with a presumably licensed driver, we still flirted with the cliff edge from time to time, trying to catch a glimpse of the azure water and sheer terraces below.

In Amalfi, we sampled more gelato and some super-hot Italian chilies by the shore of the Mediterranean. Afterward, we visited Greek temples in Paestum and the accompanying museum with plenty of Grecian urns (which were certainly ode-worthy).

Mt. Vesuvius had loomed in our sight since reaching Sorrento, and we finally understood its awesome power in the ruins of Pompeii. The eerily immaculate preservation of buildings, frescoes and bodies told a colorful story about how people lived when the volcano erupted, entombing the city in ash and freezing time in 79 A.D.

Pompeii’s sprawling size made everything we learned startlingly big and lifelike. With the help of Mr. Bostock, the Latin students were even able to translate some of the Latin remnants scattered around.

We said arrivederci to the coast and headed for Rome and the Vatican. The Vatican Museums’ collection is impossibly large and rich, so we focused on the classics: Raphael’s frescoes in the Vatican apartments, Michelangelo’s legendary Sistine Chapel, and St. Peter’s Basilica with Bernini’s great colonnade.

To merely stand in the presence of these great masters’ works was an honor and a moving experience. Photography isn’t allowed in the Sistine Chapel, but it’s hard to imagine anyone ever forgetting the masterpieces we saw there.

The day ended with some good old exercise at gladiator camp, where we practiced swordplay, javelin throwing and archery, culminating with a battle between everyone and the net-throwing retiarius — played by your correspondent!

We saw another archaeological wonder in the ancient port of Ostia, once bustling with Roman trade. We had no time to spare — andiamo! between visiting the Pantheon, the Spanish Steps and the Trevi Fountain, the latter under repair and covered with scaffolding. Hopefully the coins we tossed into the substitute basin will still guarantee our return.

We ended the day where Julius Caesar ended his last. The wine cellar at the restaurant where we ate dinner is thought to be where Caesar had a rough day on the Ides of March.

Certified gladiators that we were, our final day saw us at the Coliseum, marveling at the arena where thousands died for the entertainment of commoners and emperors alike. From there, we wound a historical path through once-lavish palaces and temples in ruins.

As the sun set on the cobblestone streets of Tivoli, our little group — which had become quite close-knit — reminisced about the trip that would be over much too soon. We passed a ball of string back and forth, naming our favorite parts, laughing and shaking our heads. Then, we cut the string, so each of us got a souvenir better than any gift-shop postcard: a simple string bracelet, and memories to last a lifetime.

Bella ciao, Italia!

Of course, the trip would not have been possible without Mr. Bostock, Mrs. Oravec and Mr. Shepherd. We would all like to thank them for taking us on such an incredible journey (and we would also like to apologize for petting the stray animals). We’re also grateful to Stephania and World Strides, LCDS, the parents, and everyone else who made this experience as memorable as it was.