Twelfth Night or What You Will and Workshop Presented by University of Performing Arts Ernst Busch, Germany

On the evening of 16th October, The Twelfth Night was successfully performed by University of Performing Arts Ernst Busch, Germany in Proscenium Stage Theatre in Chang Ping campus of the Central Academy of Drama. This theatre is based on Twelfth Night: Or What You Will by Shakesphere, describing the relations among Orsino, Viola, Olivia and Malvolio at great length, expressing the idea about the vent of emotion and the exploration to the emotional world in modern society by the director, Steffi Kühnert.

The original creation was named Twelfth Night by Shakespeare as it is the twelfth day after the Christmas, not only a day when the church holds the daily ceremony, but also a day of carnival when theaters are played in royal and noble families. While in this theatre, the background is set in a modern nightclub in Illyria, an unknown and virtual place filled with desire, where people from different places meet each other, creating their passion and diffusion and seeking their identity, hometown, satisfaction and love, regardless of the result. The rhythm, body language and performance also realized the carnival on the stage.


The use of music is a feature in this version of Twelfth Night. DJ was controlling the music in the back of stage, making the audience feel that the magic of love is controlling them. The music is also a hint about the identity and character of four main actors. Olivia controlled the volume as if she is the mistress. For Viola, who is new and unable to manipulate the music, there was a deep cello when it comes to her monologue, leading the audience into her love to Orsino. For passionate Ovilia, she has finger-popping drumbeats to pile up her braveness and persistence.


The interpretation of Malvolio is the most interesting part in the performance. Malvolio was observing everything calmly and make ironic comments when Orsino, Viola and Olivia were in the passion of love and fun, making himself a stranger excluded. When he misunderstood Olivia's emotion and fell in love with her, he performed sexy dance wearing pantherine chaparajos, thinking it would appeal to Olivia. But in fact he was teased by clowns. Malvolio, as a role who combined the elements from both comedy and tragedy, inevitably irritated the audience's reflection about those who are excluded and mocked in our society. As Malvolio's actor mentioned in post-show talk: “Those who mock the others' scar must be those who haven't been hurt.”


In the afternoon of October 17th, the workshop from University of Performing Arts Ernst Busch, Germany was held in the Thrust Stage Theatre in Chang Ping campus of the Central Academy of Drama, with Professor Walter Prottennhofer, the Speech and Voice trainer as the conductor.

This workshop aims to give an insight into the method of gestural speech and how it is taught at the University of Performing Arts Ernst Busch. Gestural speech means physical, directed, situational, motivated and intended behavior with body, breath, voice and language including the intention to change parts of the behavior of communication partners. As Viola Schmidt, the vice-rector of the University of Performing Arts Ernst Busch mentioned, by doing this you don't lose the ability to react to the changed communication situation. This creates an interplay of directed speech and active listening.


At the beginning of the workshop, Prof. Walter introduced the content to the audience and played a video, in which two babies are communicating with murmuring and action. Walter mentioned that gestural speech were congenital, purposive and controllable but influenced by social environment, the reaction from the others and the physiological conditions of ourselves. He chose 12 students in the audience as the participant of the workshop with 3 students from the University of Performing Arts Ernst Busch.

First, Prof. Walter asked all students to wander in the stage, ignoring the others around. Then the action was gradually transferred from walking to running. The students also need to pay attention to the reaction of the people around and their breath in different circumstances.

Afterwards, Prof. Walter let the students give a brief self-introduction. And the first student to start shall say a name of other students and walk towards him. The student mentioned shall react immediately and choose the next one. Walter also made students pass the sandbag randomly among each other, and add directional sounds before throwing out the sandbag. These communication via sound and gestural speech promoted the tacit understanding among the participants.


In the end of the workshop, the students were asked to perform an action, the next student should imitate the last action and then perform a new one. The performance and reaction of the students received compliment from Prof. Walter.

copyright 2016 World Theatre Education Alliance