John Basil, founding member of the American Globe Theatre in New York City, directed graduate students from Penn State's School of Theatre in this production of selected scenes from William Shakespeare's Twelfth Night during Penn State's 2007 theatre season.
Jennifer Evans, Josie Gildow, and Gary Masquelier, English teachers from central Pennsylvania, wrote lesson plans based on these video segments.
In this video from Penn State's School of Theatre production of Twelfth Night, Sir Toby, Olivia’s uncle, and Maria, Olivia’s servant, enter the scene at her lady’s house. Maria warns him that Olivia is displeased with his overindulgences and criticizes Toby for bringing his friend, Sir Andrew Aguecheek, to woo Olivia.
Sir Andrew enters the scene as a bumbling fool. Maria exits. Sir Toby and Sir Andrew continue the scene by joking around when Andrew brings up the fact that Olivia does not seem to be impressed by his courting. Toby disagrees and convinces Andrew to stay one month longer.
Members of Olivia’s household are introduced in this scene: Olivia’s uncle, Sir Toby Belch, his friend, Sir Andrew Aguecheek, and her servant, Maria. The two men are quite fond of drinking and their friendship seems to be based upon this shared love for alcohol and the resulting rowdiness and joviality. The names of both are derived from words that mock the class to which they belong. Toby, for instance was a word for ale, while ague stands for plague. In addition, both are made to act foolish, adding yet another feature that contradicts their social standing. Sir Andrew’s musings with Toby and his dancing antics establish him as a fool or buffoon. Maria, on the other hand, is one of the more sensible as well as wittier characters and provides a counter to the slapstick comedy produced by these two. Her behavior establishes Maria’s loyalty to Olivia, and her bawdy nature demonstrates that she is Toby’s equal in wit. Her wit is further illustrated throughout the scene with playful comments and references to her anatomy as the “buttery bar.”
Love, or the desire for matrimony, is considered one of the major themes of the classic comedy and this play is no exception. Characters who are entirely unsuitable for each other direct their attention toward each other throughout the play. Similarly, in this scene, Sir Andrew wishes to attract the attention of Lady Olivia and Sir Toby spurs him on. Only Maria has the sense to see that Sir Andrew cannot hope to win over the lady with his personality and the habits he holds on to. Although Sir Toby wishes to present himself as a caring uncle who is thinking of the well-being of his niece, his selfish misjudgment shines through his behavior!
What are the boundaries of decorum? How appropriate is Sir Toby’s behavior in Olivia’s house, especially considering that it is a house of mourning?
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