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College of Liberal Arts

University of Mississippi

Oxford Shakespeare Festival Kicks Off 2011 Season June 11 with ‘Twelfth Night”


William Shakespeare’s “Twelfth Night” opens at 8 p.m. Saturday (June 11) at Meek Hall Auditorium, kicking off the 2011 Oxford Shakespeare Festival.

Additional performances for “Twelfth Night” are set for 2 p.m. Sunday (June 12), June 25 and July 10, and 8 p.m. June 17 and July 1-2 and 8-9. Tickets are $14 for adults and $11 for seniors, students and youth.

“Twelfth Night” is part of the 2011 OSF season, which is dubbed “A Season of Intrigue.” Other shows in the season, which runs through July 10, are Shakespeare’s historical play “Henry IV, Part One” and a family production of the Lerner and Loewe musical “Camelot,” based on the legend of King Arthur. Both “Henry IV, Part One” and “Camelot” are slated for the Ford Center for the Performing Arts.

Also in conjunction with the OSF season, the fourth annual Gertrude Ford Symposium lecture is set for 2 p.m. June 21 at the E.F. Yerby Conference Center. The lecture, “Shakespeare and History,” is free and open to the public.

This year’s OSF season features performers, directors and designers from across Mississippi and the Midwest, said Joe Turner Cantu, artistic director for the festival and director for “Twelfth Night.”

A romantic charade of seductions, deceptions, misplaced passions and other mischief, the OSF production of “Twelfth Night” is set in New Orleans in 1915, and some characters will speak in classic Southern dialects, Cantu said.

“The whimsically alternating comedic and darker aspects of the play lend themselves to conceptualizing period settings that better communicate the overriding themes in this rhapsodic and musically dense play,” he said. “This led me directly to New Orleans, or more specifically, a more nostalgically romantic New Orleans: 1915.

“And, after several decades of acting, directing, and cutting Shakespeare’s plays for our contemporary audiences, I am convinced that, when appropriate to the text, Southern dialects lend themselves musically to Shakespeare’s heightened language; they also assist in bringing some characters into sharper focus.”