[MUSIC] So I'd like to introduce Emma Messenger who gave a fantastic performance as Maria. >> Thank you. >> Wonderful work. So talk to me about Maria and what you've learned about her and what she's taught you. I'm interested to hear more about- >> I think I'm better at playing Maria then I was 30 years ago. And to me, that says there's a maturity that sits well on her. I'm easy in that kind of older woman role now in a way that I probably had a great time 30 years ago. But this really sat more easily to me. As women were when this play was written, there was not a lot of opportunities. And let's face it, these people are living on an island in the middle of the sea. There's not a lot of opportunity. I think the main force for me behind Maria is just this really fierce intelligence. She's got nowhere to put that down. She's working as a servant and is very much at the beck and call of, in my judgment, a rather indulgent lady who is really giving over to her grief. In a way that this household is no fun. And I think the second sort of force for Maria is just a real joyfulness in life. A joie de vivre that she enjoys a good joke. >> Yeah. >> And this was a very bawdy rendition where in other productions, Maria has perhaps been more restrained or prudish. I just found she was at a point, at least in my life now, she wasn't going to put up with any of that. >> Yeah. >> And if Toby's going to bring in this drunken knight and tell him to accost Maria, Maria is going to give as good as she gets back. >> Yeah, well, I love how you talk about these two forces because there is this kind of duality, isn't there, with her. That she's in sort of a servant role and one would think that that would be limiting or restricting. >> Yes. >> But we also see this other side of her. And she has a great deal of agency in the mayhem and the shenanigans. >> Yes, she does. She is the architect- >> Yeah. >> Of that. And she doesn't use it, this is what I love about Maria is it's an intelligence, but it's a subtle intelligence. She's very subtle. >> Yeah. >> If you just look at the letter that she writes, she writes two letters. The first letter she's written goes Orsino which you don't really pick up on. But Valentine comes in and he reads the letter. That I believe Maria has written about her mistress going to be in mourning for seven years. So we're coming from a really repressed, gloomy household. And I think she's been very well behaved. She's tried to keep Toby and that whole scene under control and not bothering Livia. It's not working and she gets threatened by Malvolio. She not only gets threatened to get in trouble in the scene, but Toby is threatened to be kicked out. And I think she believes Toby is her key out of this gloom and doom. So if Toby is threatened, her future is threatened. And that's the catalyst that makes her take action with setting up the whole trick. But there's lots of tricks in this play. >> Yes. >> I mean, the whole Viola scheme is a trick. >> Is a trick. >> On everybody, right? >> Yes. >> Olivia pretends that Sisario has given her a ring. I mean there's tricks, and tricks, and tricks. I mean, Toby is constantly playing tricks. So it's not that she's doing anything so far out of the ordinary. I think that it just gets taken too far. I don't think she means to be as cruel as it ends up being. But it's a way of stopping Malvolio who's really a serious threat. >> And you're sort of anticipating a question I had, which is what is at the root of that antagonism? And what you're saying is he threatens your job security or? >> Definitely her job security, because he says she shall know of it by this hand, meaning he's going to go and tell Olivia all this shenanigans that they've been up to, make a complaint about Maria. Ad he specifically blames Maria for Toby's behavior and all the singing. This doesn't look well on you, at least that's the way we chose to interpret it. >> Yeah. >> In this production. >> Yeah. >> So she's going to be blamed for not controlling all the shenanigans. And then Toby is going to be thrown out. And if Toby has to leave the island, which there's really not much choice, there's nowhere else for him to go. It's very contained. >> Yeah. >> Tight place. Then really she's got no escape. Not just out of her servitude, but out of perhaps this island to begin with. In my mind, there's several things that lead me to believe that Maria was not always of the servant class. For one thing, she is literate. She can read and she writes really well. And not only does she write does she write well, her handwriting is very much like- >> Olivia. >> Olivia's now, is her handwriting like Olivia's because she's a good forger? Or is it just that, I just remember in school everybody in seventh grade, all the girls wrote the same way. So it tells me that wherever she learned to write- >> Yeah. >> It was that style. >> Right. >> So somehow she's learned it. But that to me says there was time to actually learn to read. Time to learn to write. She must have been of a higher status than just the servant she is now. Also, the way she talks to Toby is in a very familiar manner. >> And the way Toby talks to her. >> And the way Toby talks to her. And she also puts down Sir Andrew to Toby. >> Right. >> Which I don't think she wouldn't find that such a casual choice to make to talk about Sir Andrew, a knight of Toby's class and put him down, if she wasn't very familiar with that and at ease with that kind of society. So I think that she is, I think she's looking to get back to where she was. >> Fascinating. >> Which to me is a more interesting story than just a social climber. If there was something that was lost, that's always more- >> Makes me want to see the prequel. [LAUGH] I want to see the origin story, right, right. >> What happened? >> But it does make sense, I was having a conversation with with Robert Sickler about Toby and how he is very aware of class. And one of the reasons he doesn't like Malvolio, he says, you're just a steward, right? >> Yes, yes. It's a reminder of that. >> But that doesn't seem to bother him. >> About Maria. >> Yeah, about Maria. >> No, not at all. >> I mean, you marry, in fact. >> Yes, she wins. She gets what she wanted. The problem with Malvolio is that he's seeking something, because they're both seeking the same thing Maria and Malvoli, is to move up, right? >> Yeah. >> Maybe Maria's moving back, maybe not. There's nothing in the text that says that, but because it's so underwritten you can take a suggestion. >> Yeah, you start creating a backstory there. >> Malvolio is putting other people down to get ahead. >> And already behaving as though he is ahead. >> There's an arrogance there, there's a clear arrogance, and then he starts threatening people. So there's reason to act. There's a justification there. >> Mm-hm. >> And it's so clever the way she does it, because she doesn't say Malvolio, Olivia's in love with you. She doesn't say here's a letter to you Malvolio. >> Yeah. >> She just uses his corruptability and his vanity to get to him. >> Yeah. >> She never says Malvolio, she says MOAI, if you look at what is written in that letter, it's so subtle. And so smart because she pushes all these buttons without taking him by the nose. >> It's like Iago or something. >> Yes, it's quite nuance.