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Twelfth Night - Act 1 Scene 3

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Uploaded on Jul 18, 2007

In this scene we are introduced to the comic center of Twelfth Night - Sir Toby Belch, Maria and Andrew Aguecheek.

Sir Toby - drunken, dissolute uncle to the Countess Olivia - spends his time partying and mooching off his niece, and anyone else he can charm into supporting him. The Countess Olivia and her household are in deep and somber mourning for the death of both her father and brother in short succession. Toby, however, is sure that "care is an enemy to life," and parties as hard as ever. He has found a very wealthy, very stupid and very gullible gentleman, Sir Andrew Aguecheek, and is drinking his way through as much of his new friend's allowance as possible. He has convinced Andrew to stay with him and attempt to woo Olivia. The empty-headed Andrew looks up to Toby, is bewitched with the rogue's company, and is easily manipulated by him. Toby also enjoys flirting with the sharp-tongued and intelligent Maria (his niece Olivia's chambermaid), and tweaking his niece's head steward, the puritanical Malvolio. Maria has romantic feelings for Toby, but is hopelessly below his station, since she is only a servant, while Toby is a gentleman. Malvolio the steward absolutely hates the disruptive and disrespectful Toby. However, since he is still not "anything more than a steward" (the highest ranking servant of the household) he can do little more than complain to Olivia, and take out his anger on the servants below him.

Note: In Shakespeare's time, to have a dry hand implied stupidity or impotence. Andrew, however, does not get the joke, or Maria's insults.

Summary of scene: in this his first appearance, a loud and drunken Sir Toby returns very late at night to the Countess Olivia's. Maria tries to quiet him down, fearing he will anger Olivia, and Olivia's steward Malvolio. She also upbraids him for drinking too much, and for wasting his time with his idiotic new friend, Sir Andrew Aguecheek. Toby refuses to be quieted, flirts with Maria, and reveals his unsavory motive for spending time with Andrew (Andrew's money). When the excitable Andrew shows up, Toby decides to have a little fun with him. Toby sics Andrew on Maria, instructing him to "accost" her. The innocent Andrew is no match for either Maria or Toby. After being "put down" by Maria, Andrew briefly considers giving up his suit for Olivia's hand in marriage and going home before totally running out of money. Toby, however, quickly convinces him to stay and keep the party going.

Actors: Kate Hurster as Maria, Ian McCafferty as Sir Toby Belch, and Nick Suders as Sir Andrew Aguecheek.

This complete production of Twelfth Night was produced and directed by Emmy Miller and Jonah Cohen for the Philadelphia Shakespeare Festival, in the summer of 2005. Space, set and lighting were provided by PSF. Costumes are by Katherine Hafer.

Miller and Cohen have put up 15 Shakespearean productions with high school students at The Shipley School in the past six years, and have directed and produced at the professional level for Philadelphia Shakespeare Festival (Twelfth Night for Summer YPC 2005) and the Echolalia Theater Company.

jonahramucohen.com

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