Twelfth Night: A Taste of Another World

Arman Chowdhury, Arts and Reviews Writer

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I’ve always loved watching shows in Hall’s Black Box.  For most of my high school career, I have been content to sit in the audience and watch the hilarious Answer shows and wide range of plays. However, realizing that my four years are quickly coming to an end, I wanted to experience being a part of one of these Black Box productions which I had enjoyed for so long.

With zero acting experience, I’d be lucky to get any role at all.  Full disclosure: I auditioned for a Hall play once before. It went painfully wrong because I had decided at the audition that I would attempt to memorize parts of my monologue.  Needless to say, I was not in that year’s production of Much Ado.

Nonetheless, during the spring of my senior year, I decided to test my luck and audition again. With the same monologue.  This time, I thoroughly memorized it. I felt good leaving the audition. A few days later, the cast list was posted on the bulletin board outside the theater. I walked up and saw my name.  I earned a small character role, but more importantly, I was going to perform in a Black Box show.

For a few weeks, I was swept into the rhythmic hubbub of Hall theatre. I was warming up with the cast before rehearsals, watching people rehearse their scenes, following frantically along in my thick script for fear of missing my two entrances. In my twelve-hour-long days I was eating dinner at school while spending my time with the same cohort of people, many of whom I hadn’t known before.

For a few weeks, I got a taste of another world.

The play itself, Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night, is a raucous comedy filled with cross-dressing servants, drunken knights, untimely affections that compound into a convoluted love triangle all interplay in the fictional land of Illyria.

As props and set pieces began trickling into the Black Box, I watched the actors get more comfortable with their lines and explore their characters.  Then came costumes, and then the lights. I watched, wide-eyed, as the play was slowly given life.

To keep with the lively atmosphere of the play, music was added as pre-show entertainment and transition sequences between scenes.  In addition to my three lines, I sang bass as well as countertenor (in my falsetto!) and performed on flute for the first time since middle school.  Essentially, anything I could do that was of any entertainment value at all, I was doing in this show.

The feeling after opening night was like no other.  This was the last Hall show that the seniors would be in, which added a dimension of emotion to the entire experience.

I was amazed by the connective power of theater. Though the closing night is long past, the personal connections I made endure in my memory.  The people who had a few weeks ago been strangers, had now become something of a family. I suppose that’s what happens when a group of people come together and put their whole beings into creating something transcendental.

For my first and last Hall play, it was pretty incredible.

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