William Shakespeare’s “Twelfth Night,” like several of his plays, includes characters that cross-dress for various reasons, usually having to do with amorous relationships. By flipping the genders of some participants in these couples, director Sharifa Elkady is playing with the concepts of gender and pushing the pre-conceived notions of Shakespearean sexuality that results in several same-sex couplings.
Her vision of the play, presented by the College at Brockport Department of Theatre and Music Studies, opens at 7:30 p.m. Nov. 22 in the Tower Fine Arts Center Mainstage Theatre, 180 Holley St., Brockport.
Elkady is the founder and artistic director of Sojourner Stage Theatre Co. She comes to Brockport through her directing fellowship at Geva Theatre Center, which has an alliance with the college’s theater department.
Her concept for “Twelfth Night” stresses “the magic that comes from a freedom of choice.” When Viola and her twin brother, Sebastian, are shipwrecked and find themselves arriving separately at Illyria, they are coming from a “land where their ability to be who they desired to be was restricted by societal expectations. This new land of Illyria — timeless; feeling of past, present and future; having a sense of magic and mystery — is, at its heart, a land where you can be and do whatever you want … By flipping the genders of Duke Orsino and Olivia (into Duchess Orsina and Olivio), Orsina becomes a woman seeking to come to terms with who she really loves, Olivio becomes a man who refuses to be closeted by those around him, and Viola and Sebastian are given the freedom to explore who they truly are.”
Performances will take place on Nov. 22-23 and Dec. 5-7 at 7:30 p.m. The 2 p.m. matinee on Nov. 24 will be ASL-interpreted. Admission is $17/general; $12/seniors, alumni, faculty and staff; and $9/students. Tickets are available by phone at (585) 395-2787, online at fineartstix.brockport.edu or at the Tower Box Office.