So today we are talking to Amanda Giguere, Director of Outreach at the Colorado Shakespeare Festival, who was dramaturg for this year's production of Twelfth Night. Did I get all that right? You got it. Good. So what is a dramaturg? What does a dramaturg do? So when I talk about dramaturgs after people are like, "A what?" I think of the dramaturg as the person who really is familiar with the text of the play and can navigate the ins and outs of what is happening textually, but also thematically, what's happening in the play. Sometimes I talk about the dramaturg as the clarity person looking for what is the story that we want to tell in this production, and are we telling it? Yeah. But on a Shakespeare play, often the dramaturg is the person who knows what the words mean quite simply. Sure. I think part of being a good dramaturg is being able to offer up ideas but not being attached to them, and being able to bring scholarly ideas to the table, and just trying to serve the production in whatever ways the director wants to make that production happen. Awesome. How did that play out this time around? In what ways did you contribute to this fantastic production of Twelfth Night? Yeah. So with this production, really because Tim Orr and I have worked together before, we've been co-workers at the Shakespeare Festival for many years, but this was my first time being a dramaturg for him. It was a really natural process where, I think, early in maybe December, we sat down and I asked him a series of questions about the play and what things he wanted to emphasize, and just got a sense of, for him, what's the heart of the play. Then that can guide me in what I need to research. He's a pretty independent director, he knew what he wanted it to look like, so a lot of it was just bouncing ideas around early in the process about, if this is the thing we want to focus on? Does this work? If music is going to play this role? How might that feed into the way Feste is depicted? That kind of thing. Yeah. So what did you learn about the play? I know you've worked on this before. I've written this play so many times. How many times have you? Maybe like seven or eight? Yeah? Yeah, seven or eight times. So this is the question I love to ask, what did this production teach you about the play, because, of course, there's always more to discover? Yeah. I think this time around, the role of music was so key. Tim had really great ideas from the start about the role that he wanted music to play, and it's the most musical of Shakespeare's plays also. I think it taught me that the way Shakespeare wrote the play, the music is a catalyst in the action so it's actually moving us forward. The way that the ocean is a catalyst in this play as well, and the way that Tim chose to stage it with the audience is the ocean, the audience is in the ocean. Yeah, say more about that because I don't know, in all the interviews I've had, that that has really come up, that they were the ocean. Yeah, they were the ocean. Yeah. So the play opens with this Feste conjuring the tail. He's playing his accordion and beginning this story. But the idea where we see the set is we're looking at Orsino's backyard, I guess, his back patio, just on the brink of where the shore and the land meet. Now what I think is really crucial to Tim's concept is that the play is set in a very liminal space and we see so many transformations happening throughout the play. But locating the action right on the edge of the ocean, where just off in the distance, that's where the shipwreck has happened. I think the closing performance, I was sitting listening, I was like, "Does someone have something playing?" Then I realized, no, it's the ocean, it's the waves. I never noticed, it was in that moment too. So the ocean is always there as a backdrop, as is music, it's just wherever Feste is, there's music happening throughout the play. You said that music drives the story, what are some examples? Yeah. So in the party scene, when the drunkards are gallivanting about and singing, "Hold thy peace, and I prithee hold thy peace." Stunning. Yes. So that's what prompts Malvolio to come out and yell at them and that's what prompts them to plot to take that guy down and plant the letter. But even in the way Tim chose to stage it, the song that Feste sings at Orsino's house, that song is a catalyst for bringing Orsino and Viola together in that really sweet hand moment, where they're touching hands and moving closer. Yes. Because I think, in not every Shakespeare play the way music is used, I don't think it's always used in that way, sometimes. I think I really didn't notice that this is the only play that begins and ends with music. Yeah, if you don't swap the first two scenes like we did. But we still began our play with music, with Feste conjuring. But yeah, it begins with if music be the food of love. But our production, did we already talk about that that we start with Viola? I don't think we did, so it's helpful to hear. That was part of Tim's concept was he wanted to really focus on Viola's journey, and so starting with by meeting Viola and what country, friends, is this, becomes what country, friend, because we've cut out all of her sailor friends. There's just one captain. But we start with Viola's journey and then meet Orsino. We also talked about the scene that is often cut that you kept coming out of intermission. The conversation between Feste and Viola and that they are playing music together in the drum-off. I think that was so smart, really effective. It was really fun. It allowed us to learn, I think, some vital things about both of those characters that we often don't get to hear. Yeah, although, I have to say it, I brought my son to the closing performance, and the person sitting next to us when Feste came out on his costume said, "It's like the Addams Family." Because Feste's costume was similar to I don't know who. With the stripes? Yeah. Who is that? I don't know. I can't remember. Cousin Itt? Not Cousin Itt. Fester. Uncle Fester. There. That's it. Fester, Feste. Maybe we should get the costume designer in here. That's good. Well, great. How about the performance history of this play? Did that research factor into this production at all? Not really. But I did some research into the fact that some productions called the play Malvolio. I think it's interesting to notice how important Malvolio is in the story. I think it's easy to think about that plot line as some sort of a subplot, but I think the Malvolio storyline is really key. We know that in 1602, there was a performance of Twelfth Night. It's the first recorded performance at the Inns of Court, and we know this because a law student wrote about it in his diary, John Manningham. The thing that John Manningham recorded in his diary was the Malvolio storyline, that there is a funny butler who dresses up and is made to be a fool. So I think that tells you something about the importance of that storyline, and then also that Shakespeare stole the storyline of the Viola, Orsino, Olivia love triangle, but that Malvolio storyline is his own. I think whenever you see Shakespeare diverging from his sources, or adding to it, there's a reason. Then we did talk a little bit in rehearsal about how Richard Burbage probably played Malvolio, which I think, again, points to how important that role really is if you give your leading actor the role. But I think the research that I did was mostly focused on the role of the name of Twelfth Night. I was just about to ask you about that. The origins of Twelfth Night as the festival marking the end of the 12 days of Christmas, and because we knew that we wanted to really focus on Feste, this idea that the Twelfth Night festivities would be overseen by the Lord of Misrule. So Tim's concept was he wanted to have Feste as a Lord of Misrule, orchestrating everything, controlling everything behind the scenes, conjuring up the story with his music. You see in the opening pre-show, Feste comes out with a little billboard around his neck that says "Lord of Misrule". I have two questions. Which way do I go first? Tell us more about Twelfth Night, because you mentioned when we had the first recorded performance, but then there's that fun fact about Duke Orsino visiting the court a year earlier, and it may have been performed for Twelfth Night, but what is the significance of Twelfth Night as a holiday where all bets are off and roles are subverted? Can you talk a bit about that? Because I don't think we have yet. Yeah. So I think it's important to note that Twelfth Night was a very big celebration in Shakespeare's day, and it was a festival of release in a way, where the whole world gets turned upside down. As I said, a Lord of Misrule would oversee the festivities, there will be lots of games and probably drunkenness and singing and dancing in Marrymand and probably performers brought in to perform short plays, but also this idea of role playing and roll switching so that the person you are in your regular life, you could swap roles with someone else. So a master of the house might dress up as a servant and the servant might be the master. Without consequences. Without consequences, so this idea that you are temporarily released from the real world, but that it's only temporary because by the end of the festival, we all go back to ourselves, we become ourselves again. It's interesting in this play, and the play is not set during twelfth night or anything like that, but there are thematic echoes between a play that is named for a festival of release, and a play about a butler who aspires to marry his boss, or presumably a young noblewoman like Viola dressing up as a male servants. Right. So this idea that it's a play about transgression and socially sanctioned disruptiveness. It's interesting if you think about just how that pattern applies to our world, I think if you look at holidays like Halloween, that's our contemporary example, or April Fool's Day or something where we can break the rules because it's built into the fabric of our society that every year on this day, we break the rules. This notion of what might you discover about yourself when you're playing someone other than yourself, I think reverberates through so many of Shakespeare's plays. Yeah. There's an element of truth telling that you've put on the disguise and you can speak the truth. Viola becomes really truthful when she is Cesario. It doesn't actually disguise, but it reveals. Yeah, it's really cool. If the Feste as the Lord of Misrule is guiding us through the story, and the story as this production told it is focusing on Viola's journey, can you talk a little bit about that? Why was it talked about? Why Feste is revealing her story to us? No. I mean that it's [inaudible] that. But well, let me think about that. I just think that's really interesting. What I'm thinking about some of the conversations I've had in my interview with a messenger who played Maria, she talked about the generational difference in the play, and that many of the people in Olivia's household are stuck, and that Viola and Sebastian show up and unstick them. She talks about it in generational terms, that it takes these young twins to like show up on the island and everyone gets out of habits that they're in and cycles that they're caught in, and I wondered if that was a larger discussion, and that was Emma's insight. Emma is super smart and I think that's a great insight. All of you. Well I think, yeah, there's something to be said for the outsider status. But the thing I would say about Viola and Sebastian is they both demonstrate really amazing resilience in difficult situations. Viola, for sure and we see her the most when she washes a shore and she's lost everything, she thinks that her brother is dead, she doesn't know what to do but she immediately starts problem solving and she doesn't stop and grieve like we see Olivia doing, and she doesn't wallow, she is active, she goes right to action. But there's a line about Sebastian. I think the captain says it to Viola and Feste where the captain says, "Yeah, I saw your brother." What does he say? Courage and faith, both teaching in the practice or something. But he says, "Your brother most provident and parallel". So that's what's interesting. Rising above the waves. This guy, he is provident and parallel, he is in complete danger and that's where he shines. His strongest. Yeah, you see courage and hope, both teaching the practice, something like that. But this idea that these young people are resilient and whatever their upbringing was, they've trained for this. Yeah. They've been through hard times, they've lost a father, we don't know where their mother went, but we assume she's not in the picture. But this idea of these people who come into Olivia and they are actors, they are action people instead of forcing or surrounding itself and music to take care his love or Olivia drowning in her sorrow or Toby drowning in his drink. Yes. But yeah, there's this element of, "Let's get a move on people, let's start doing things." I think it's a play about moderation to access moderation and all the characters in Illyria are excessive beings and Viola and Sebastian are tempered in a pretty mature way. That's good. There's a lot of agency among the female characters. I mean, you're talking about Viola, but also Maria is the mastermind of the plan. Yeah. Olivia, as I read in your notes' maybe stuck, but also an independent woman running her household. How does that relate to some of other Shakespeare's plays? The Resilient Woman. Yeah, I think we do see a lot of women in powerful positions in this play. Yeah. So the other thing, you mentioned Malvolio as an important character in this play and cruelty escalates. This has come up in every interview I've had, is the escalation of cruelty in this play. I thought that would be a really good segue to your project, switching hats from dramaturg of this production to Director of Outreach. Can you talk a little bit about the touring program with the Colorado Shakespeare Festival? I believe it started with Twelfth Night. Yeah. It did. Yeah, it started in 2011 when Tim and I, we were talking about what educational programs we wanted to tour to schools. We knew that CSF was staging Twelfth Night in the upcoming season, and we wanted to tour a shortened version of that play to sort of get kids thinking about Twelfth Night, and we are looking at the Gulling of Malvolio, and just thinking, well, this is an example of bullying. Yeah. It's cyberbullying too. It's sort of let's plant an anonymous letter and let's torment this poor guy and he has no idea what's going on. I'm sorry, this is the second time you're hearing me say this all today. All right. So we decided, well, let's tour Twelfth Night, but let's focus on bullying and try to bring in the conversation about bullying that's currently happening in Colorado schools. At the time in 2011, we were hearing constantly articles about students bullied to the point that they were committing suicide. It was so frequent that a term bullycide had been coined. We just started thinking, is there a way that we can tap into that conversation because the play seems to do it already. So we met with the Center for the Study and Prevention of Violence and we said, "We want to tour this play, it sort of touches on bullying, can you give us any resources about bullying?" We have expected them to just recommend a book or an article that we read. They said, "We want to partner with you." So that was the birth of the Shakespeare & Violence Prevention Program. So that was in 2011 and since that time we've performed for about a 100,000 students. The goal really is to get kids thinking about the patterns of violence and mistreatment in their communities by using Shakespeare's plays as sort of a safe distance from reality. So there's the safety of metaphor in watching a Shakespeare play as opposed to watching a play about your high school. Right. Yeah. We keep finding that Shakespeare has so much to say about violence and I think this was a really interesting topic for Shakespeare. I think all the plays on some level are about violence, and on the flip side about peace. The constant quest for people to find peace, which I think Shakespeare pose it as the opposite of violence. Yeah, so we've adapted a whole bunch of plays for this project. We've done The Tempest, looking at prosperous Quest for Vengeance, and ultimately his Choice to Forgive. Much Ado About Nothing, which was really fun. It was all about gossip and rumors and the public shaming of hero. What else have we done? Mackers. Mackers. Yes, looking at Macbeth's, yeah. How you turn off your empathy in order to harm others. Taming of the Shrew. Taming of the Shrew. Yeah. That's pretty obvious one. Yeah. We're doing Romeo and Juliet right now as you know, which you are directing. Yeah. But yeah, I think so many of these plays are about what happens to a community, how does the fabric of a society, how is it impacted by violent behavior? The cool thing is you see a ripple effect. So in Twelfth Night, early in the play when Feste and Malvolio are sort of having their little interchange and we hear Malvolio say, "Why laugh you at such a barren rascal, an you smile not, he's gagged." That line comes back at the very end of the play, and then it keeps cycling and cycling. For all their differences, Malvolio and Feste, they share this desire to have revenge on the other. Retaliation. Yeah. Yeah. It doesn't end. Right. How they revenged on the whole back of you. Yes. Then where does he go next? But the other thing that has been really interesting about this project is recognizing the ways in which Shakespeare's plays are not violent plays. I think they are plays about violence, because whenever a violent act occurs, it is always nestled in thought and it's surrounded by a person unpacking what has just happened, or confiding in the audience, "I'm about to do this horrific thing, what do I do?" So it's always couched in the ripple effects of the violence and how it impacts the human mind. So I think Shakespeare was really interested in what is it that makes people tick and why did they keep harming one another and themselves. That's all over Twelfth Night. It's everywhere. Your touring show is essentially a 30-45 minute cutting and the cutting it becomes Malvolio's story in a lot of ways. Yeah, we lose so much. Antonio goes away. But it shines the spotlight on the violence that happens in the play. Yeah, and the thing that's been helpful in applying a violence prevention lens to Shakespeare's plays is that if you think about the three roles that are involved in a violent situation, it's the perpetrator, the target, and the bystander. These three roles, we see that played out in Twelfth Night all the time. We have three actors playing all of the roles in the play, but it's neat to pair it down to these core ideas so you can really see how that same pattern of the perpetrator is harming the target, the bystanders watching and that target becomes a perpetrator somewhere else, you really see that it plays out over and over. The great thing about using Shakespeare is that because the audience is so engaged in Shakespeare's plays, the audience becomes complicit; they are bystanders. That was something really important in touring the show is we didn't want Malvolio to be this tragic hero, we wanted the kids early on to be laughing at him also because then by the end of the play, I'll be revenged on it's not just the whole pack of you people on stage, but it's a whole new people in the audience Yeah, because we were laughing too. We once performed at this school I think it was the day that we were filming and Malvolio did the slow take of "I'll be revenged on the whole pack of you," I think one kid went, "Yikes." That's good. But yes, it's the idea that even if you are a witness to violence, you are still saying that violence is okay. If you're not speaking up and it doesn't mean you have to directly intervene, we partner with Safe2Tell, which is an anonymous tip line, and they always emphasize that it's no less courageous to take action anonymously into report dangerous behavior when you see it happening in your community. Can you talk a bit about the impact of the program? Yeah. We asked the kids after seeing a performance, "Did you enjoy the performance? Would you like us to return to your school?" But the most important question we asked is, "The next time you witness mistreatment, are you likely to try to help?" It's something like 94 percent of the students say, "Yeah." That's awesome. I think it's key to remember that we're a [inaudible] born helpers. We're generally good kind people and if you can build connectedness among kids, young people, old people, everyone, if you feel like you're connected to other people and if you feel like this person that I'm seeing getting hurt that's actually impacting me and it because it's impacting my community and you recognize that your fate is caught up in the fate of other people, you're less likely to harm other people, but you're also more likely to stand up when you witness them being mistreated and I think that's why we've probably all got into the theater is because we recognize how connected we are to other people and how it's important to be part of a community. That's great. The way I've been ending all of these has been with the question, "Why Shakespeare today?" I think we've been talking about that. Its an easy one, easy question. Right. In many ways you've already answered that question, but do you have any other thoughts? So many, yes. Because people ask me a lot why don't you tour, plays about bullying? Why don't you just not use Shakespeare's plays but write your own play about bullying? I think Shakespeare does something really critical which is Shakespeare's plays are inherently complex and we have a multitude of different perspectives in a Shakespeare play and each voice in that play is a valid voice and makes a really good point. I think there's great power in watching a play in which someone like Malvolio can be finding a letter and realizing, "My lady loves me," and you can feel his joy and you can completely identify with him. Then the next moment when the little pranksters come on, they're so joyous about having this great prank and you can identify with them. It's a real complexity of I can identify with multiple different perspectives and multiple different truths and that builds empathy and that builds again, that connectedness to a lot of different viewpoints. So I think that's the real treasure of a Shakespeare play is that mental gymnastics of hopping into the brains of all these different people. I totally agree. Yeah, Shakespeare. Thank you. Thank you, Kellan. Nice talking to you. You too.