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posted: 7/30/2010 12:01 AM

Batavia Shakespeare troupe to perform 'Twelfth Night' outdoors

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  • Actors practice sword fighting for Shakespeare on Clark's production of "Twelfth Night."

      Actors practice sword fighting for Shakespeare on Clark's production of "Twelfth Night."
    Courtesy of Shakespeare on Clark

 
 

Imagine a magical place, an island across the sea, filled with colorful characters that offer mischief, mayhem, and mystery with a heavy dose of comedy thrown in.

Imagine Shakespeare's production of "Twelfth Night" taking place in downtown Batavia.

Shakespeare on Clark, Batavia's local Shakespearean theater troupe, will take you there this weekend, when it debuts the popular comedy.

"Clark Island is the perfect setting for 'Twelfth Night,'" said the production's director, Julane Sullivan.

"The water rushing downstream provides the backdrop of the 'sea,' and the old stone pavilion creates the feeling of another era."

In Sullivan's interpretation of "Twelfth Night," the play takes place in a mid-1800s setting of a gypsy community. To set the stage, there will be jugglers, tarot card readers and gypsy music playing as theater goers arrive on Clark Island.

The gypsy concept works well for actor and fight choreographer Will Burdin. Burdin is a student in the acting program at Northern Illinois University and studied with Orion Couling, a fight choreographer who teaches stage combat around the world.

Burdin was able to be more creative in his combat staging because of the gypsy theme.

"Swords are always a staple of stage combat," he said. "But the gypsy world uses daggers, fists, chair legs and stair posts - pretty much anything in sight."

Doing stage combat isn't easy for the three stage battle scenes. It involves learning fluid movements that, with practice, become chiseled and quick. The actors need to remember their movements and the moves of the other actors.

By the time the production goes onstage, all of the choreography happens very quickly. "Twelfth Night" is doubly challenging because it involves women disguised as men who fight, as well as drunkards and buffoons who get involved in the mayhem.

"Each of the fight scenes needs to take into consideration the characters that the various actors play," Burdin said.

"Twelfth Night" offers disguises, deception and delirious fun. It involves love sought and love unsought. The production is captivating and comedic - and sure to keep the audience involved in all of the action on stage.

The cast features actors from throughout the Fox Valley and western suburbs. Included in the cast are: Michelle Buck, Will Burdin, Kevin Krasinski, Nikki Prusinski, Mike Cook, Daniel Klaisner, Kasey Ostarello, Shayne Dwyer, Ryan Dwyer, Keith Dwyer, Jim Stott, Lynn Meredith, Brian Downing, Bryan Renaud, Christina Fleetwood, Megan Cave, Beth Kahan, Kelly Cash and Peter Geldes.

Laura Dwyer of Batavia is designing the costumes.

This production is the 12th production of the summer theater program known as Shakespeare on Clark. Shakespeare on Clark is produced in cooperation with Batavia Main Street and the Batavia Park District, and is sponsored in part by All Dressed Up Costumes.

The performances take place today, July 30 through Sunday, Aug. 8; with performances at 7 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays and 6 p.m. on Sundays.

Audience members are encouraged to bring their picnic dinners along with their blankets and lawn chairs.

The productions are free, but a donation of $10 is encouraged to offset the cost of the production.

Clark Island is in the middle of the Fox River, just south of Wilson Street in downtown Batavia. Parking is available on either side of the river, off of Route 25 or Island Avenue with bridge access to the island park.

For details, visit www.jesterscourtyard.com.

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