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Department of Communications/
News Bureau
22 Davis Hall, 10 Lippitt Road, Kingston, RI 0288
Phone: 401-874-2116 Fax: 401-874-7872

Audience will revel in Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night at URI

KINGSTON, R.I. -- April 13, 2001 -- The University of Rhode Island Theatre Department’s production of Twelfth Night is sure to provide a night of laughter, mistaken identities, and mischief.

The play will run from April 19 to 21 and from April 25 to 28 at 8 p.m. in the Robert E. Will Theatre of URI’s Fine Arts Center. The April 19 show is a signed performance. Proceeds from the Friday, April 27 performance will benefit the Thomas R. Pezzullo Memorial Scholarship Fund. Tickets are $10 for general admission and $8 for students, seniors, and children. To reserve tickets, call the URI Box Office at 874-5843.

Twelfth Night, by William Shakespeare, follows the beautiful, shipwrecked Viola as she washes up on the seacoast of Illyria and must dress as a male to survive. Along the way she meets her true love, finds her long-lost brother, and sets into effect a stream of hilarious events.

"This is probably one of the greatest, if not the greatest, of Shakespeare’s comedies. It’s fun and it’s funny," said Anthony Estrella, director of Twelfth Night.

According to Estrella, the play is much more than just a comedy as it explores the extremes of human emotion.

"It’s a beautiful play with a really big heart. It’s about grief and love and acceptance and it is a celebration of all those things. It is also very real and human as we’re dealing with real human magic. Everyone can identify with it because it is from this world," said Estrella.

URI’s production is influenced by the American and European styles of the 1930s. Estrella said one of the biggest challenges in producing a Shakespearean play is that people feel so removed from the language and costumes. By modernizing the setting, the play is more available to the audience.

"With the 30s you have a time period that is from the last century, but is still vivid in people’s consciousness. It’s a time period that is a world away, but close enough," he explained.

Many of the themes throughout the play are values promoted in the Twelfth Night festival of the Renaissance. The festival, for which Shakespeare named his play, was held on January 6. Historically, it was one last day of celebration and revelry before the harvest season began. The festival was known for its celebration of inverted social structures, where peasants played kings, lords played tradesmen, and all were presided over by the "Lord of Misrule." The festival also celebrated community, which is reflected in the play.

"The theatre is about community. In society today we focus too much on alienation. But in this play, we create a sense of community, not just with the actors and actresses on-stage but with the audience," explained Anthony Luciano, a senior theatre major from Colchester, Vt., who plays Sir Toby Belch.

The production is taking another step to create a link to the community with the April 27 performance of Twelfth Night, which benefits the Thomas R. Pezzullo scholarship fund. The fund honors the late Thomas Pezzullo, a career educator and vice president at both the University of Rhode Island and Rhode Island College. The fund was established by Pezzullo’s wife, Barbara Brittingham, a former dean of the College of Human Science and Services, and his sons, David J. and Daniel W. Pezzullo, to help needy and talented students attend school and take full advantage of their college experience. Pezzullo was an accomplished actor, director and set designer who won awards for his work in community theatre.

For More Information: Roy I. Jones, 401-874-4968, Jhodi Redlich, 401-874-2116, Jennifer Smith, 401-874-2116

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