Folger Public Programs is pleased to present ENCORES, a weekly online series highlighting past performances and recalling the rich history of programming on the historic Folger stage. As many arts and cultural institutions remain closed during this time, these ENCORES provide a way to connect and revisit the breadth of Folger offerings with a wider audience.
Twelfth Night by William Shakespeare
Directed by Robert Richmond, Folger Theatre, 2013
Read a conversation between cast member Louis Butelli and director Robert Richmond
- Tonya Beckman*, Maria
- Michael Brusasco*, Orsino
- Louis Butelli*, Feste
- Chris Genebach*, Antonio
- James Konicek*, Sir Andrew Aguecheek
- Joshua Morgan*, Valentine
- Rachel Pickup*, Olivia
- Emily Trask*, Viola
- William Vaughan, Sebastian
- Craig Wallace*, Sir Toby Belch
- Richard Sheridan Willis*, Malvolio
- Scenic Design by Tony Cisek**
- Costume Design by Mariah Anzaldo Hale**
- Lighting Design by Andrew F. Griffin**
- Original Music and Sound by Matthew M. Nielson**
- Production Stage Manager, Che Wernsman*
*Actors’ Equity Association
**United Scenic Artists
Read the introduction by cast member Louis Butelli:
Hello and welcome to Folger ENCORES.
I’m Louis Butelli and I’m happy to be able to speak with you today. The Folger has been sharing selections from their plays, music and readings with you in this ENCORES series.
And, this week, we’re revisiting the Folger Theatre production of Twelfth Night, where I played Feste.
Now, this was a beautiful production—my dear friend and long-time collaborator, director Robert Richmond, and the design team created a theatrical confection. They set the show at the turn of the last century, and the shipwreck that begins the play Twelfth Night—separating the twins Viola and Sebastian—was inspired, in this production, by the sinking of the Lusitania.
Now, by setting the production around 1915, we were able to call upon the opulence of the late Edwardian period for the set, by Tony Cisek, and the costumes, by Mariah Hale. Plus, we were able to have live period music, coordinated by Joshua Morgan, woven throughout the production.
Some of that music is what we’re sharing with you now. In the final moments of Twelfth Night, Viola and Sebastian are reunited, they each marry their true loves, Olivia and Orsino, and we all celebrate with a song. This one, “Hey, Ho, the Wind and the Rain,” has new music by Matthew Nielson, played and sung by yours truly.
Now, I’d played Feste before and had sung his songs along with a pre-recorded track. But, for our version, with Joshua playing live keys on-stage, and with other actors playing clarinet, and accordion, and cello, I just thought it would seem weird if the play’s musician Feste wasn’t also playing something live. So, I had about a month to learn some basic chords and strumming, and then about another month as Matthew wrote, to learn to play and sing his tunes.
Now, this did not come easily, and I’m reminded of a moment in our technical rehearsals right before we’d opened. I had just received a new version of Feste’s other song, “Come Away Death,” and I was struggling to remember it, when lighting designer Andrew Griffin created a moment where I would walk in sync with an automated spotlight that moved from the wing, across the stage, all the way to downstage center, within an inch of the edge of the stage. So there I am, barely able to play this thing, barely able to remember the tune, unable to see anything in the dark and blinded by the spotlight, trying to precisely time a slow walk towards an abyss. Which, as I say it now, is something of a metaphor for the world we live in, and for making theater at all. The “Wind and the Rain,” indeed.
Anyway, it was an extraordinary experience for me to be able to work with Robert—I think we’ve done something like 30 plays together —on Twelfth Night, especially at the Folger. It was great fun for us, and great fun for the audience.
We hope that you will enjoy this small sample of Twelfth Night.
And, please, join us again for these weekly episodes of ENCORES, highlighting all that the Folger has to offer.
A great while ago
The world begun
With a hey, ho, the wind and the rain
But that’s all one
Our play is done
And we’ll strive to please you every day
Check back each Friday for a new “from the archives” performance, introduced by some of our favorite artists, showcasing the best of Folger Theatre, Folger Consort, O.B. Hardison Poetry, and lectures.