As our faculty panel has just discussed, Orsino's experience highlights the confused and confusing nature of love as Shakespeare understands it. The opening scene shows the close relation between desire and aggression, the proximity between the wish to be with another person and the wish to dominate the other person. At the same time Orsino views love as an uncomfortably passive experience, a disease for which he seeks to cure. Love is both deeply pleasurable and deeply disturbing. This is the paradox of love. Such an understanding of the phenomenon stretches back into antiquity and forward into our own time. If you need an example, you might here think of each and every romantic comedy that you've ever watched. Desire is both thrilling and discomforting as one experiences both the power of overwhelming attraction and the sense of losing control. For Shakespeare, falling in love is in some ways the most deeply personal event someone can experience. Love is also an almost impersonal experience, a counter-demonic possession, as if someone or something else has taken over your mind and body. Shakespeare's lovers rarely think rationally, they're prone to profound delusion and narcissistic self-absorption. Even though Olivia keeps telling Orsino no, he continues to believe that she will eventually say yes. Similarly, Sir Toby is able to convince the clueless Sir Andrew Aguecheek that Olivia is secretly in love with them. Just as Maria is able to trick Malvolio into believing that if only he wears his yellow stockings and smiles like a complete idiot, Olivia will be his. Perhaps precisely because of the irrational aspects of love, the experience of desiring another can feel like a threat to one's sense of self. Such an understanding of the riskiness of desire is implicit in Olivia's initial refusal of Orsino's affections. Her lack of interest in Orsino derives in part from the basic fact that she is just not that into him. It also follows on an awareness that the culmination of love with such a man would result in her loss of autonomy, to love Orsino back would be to lose her independence. That is, to be come someone she does not wish to be; a subordinate to her male husband. Love highlights the instability of identity, the possibility that we can experience emotions or become involved with others in ways that might change who we are in profound, in unpredictable ways. This is all to say that identity in Shakespeare's play is a fragile phenomenon prone to disruption and transformation. In the context of a comedy, audiences usually find the experience hilarious. The instability of identity is also central to the theater as an institution. Playing with identity is among the theaters most elemental attractions. To attend a play is to gather in order to watch a group of actors pretend to be other people. Shakespeare's plays revel in this basic aspect of the theater. His actors not only pretend to be someone else, but also frequently play characters who themselves pretend to be someone else. Twelfth Night is among the plays most occupied with this aspect of Shakespeare's art. Disguises and cross-dressing form a primary source of the play's hilarity and a source of its most probing exploration of the nature of identity and social reality. Theater involves the ability and willingness to imagine that it is possible for one person to become someone else. In Shakespeare's day, most people associated with the theater were aligned with the trades, which is to say that they were not from wealthy families. The theater was an environment where men of lower to middling status pretended to be other people for entertainment in ways that were potentially highly lucrative. There's a certain fantasy and potential transgressiveness embedded in many songs theater practice. Commoners impersonated onstage characters of the most exalted status. Prepubescent boys would depict women and English men would represent people from all over the world, from Europe, the Mediterranean, and beyond. The theaters critics of whom there were many, viewed such identity play as risky. Acting was thought to be fundamentally deceptive and a threat to the stability of society. At the same time, many in Shakespeare's audience would have welcomed the possibility of at least certain kinds of social mobility. Though the idea that identity is unstable, even fluid frightened many people, such an idea was also central to the success of Shakespeare's theater. Twelfth Night shows Shakespeare fully embracing the idea that identity is unstable. Consider how many characters in Twelfth Night in one way or another pretend to be someone that they turn out not to be. Viola disguises herself as the page Cesario. Olivia presents herself as a woman in mourning, but very quickly becomes a giddy lover. For awhile, Viola's brother, for his own reasons, pretends to be someone named Roderigo, the servant Maria counterfeits Olivia's handwriting in effect disguising herself in writing as her mistress when she pens the letter to Malvolio. Maria's letter convinces Malvolio to cross-dress as a bold lover, which also in a way reveals his sober demeanor and high minded sense of moral superiority as itself just another disguise. As a part of the practical joke played on Malvolio, Feste the clown dresses up as the parish curate, Sir Topas. This list highlights not only the centrality of disguises in the play, but also suggests how the disguises heighten the confusion generated by desire. To take the most central example, whenever Viola's intentions in deciding to disguise herself as a young man, the unintended effect of her decision is to solicit the affections of Olivia. Serving Duke Orsino, Cesario gains an intimacy with his employer that leads to love. Disguise heightens desire, and magnifies the confusion and chaos associated with love. We now turn to a number of videos that reinforce and develop these points. First up, we have interviews with Amber Scales and Jess Robblee , the actress who played Viola and Olivia respectively in the Colorado Shakespeare Festivals production of Twelfth Night. After hearing from them about their characters and their approach to depicting Viola and Olivia, we turn to a faculty round table to discuss the crucial moment in Act 1, Scene 5, in which Olivia first meets and immediately falls in love with Cesario.