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Shakespeare might have met Rosencrantz and Guildenstern in the white streets of London, or seen the serving-men of rival houses bite their thumbs at each other in the open square; but Hamlet came out of his soul, and Romeo out of his passion. They were elements of his nature to which he gave visible form, impulses that stirred so strongly within him that he had, as it were perforce, to suffer them to realize their energy, not on the lower plane of actual life, where they would have been trammeled and constrained and so made imperfect, but on the imaginative plane of art where Love can indeed find in Death its rich fulfillment, where one can stab the eavesdropper behind the arras, and wrestle in a new-made grave, and make a guilty king drink his own hurt, and see one’s father’s spirit, beneath the glimpses of the moon, stalking in complete steel from wall to wall. Action being limited would have left Shakespeare unsatisfied and unexpressed, and…it is because he never speaks to us of himself in his plays that his plays reveal him to us absolutely, and show us his true nature and temperament far more completely than do those strange and exquisite sonnets….Man is least himself when he talks in his own person. Give him a mask, and he will tell you the truth.

Oscar Wilde
“The Critic as Artist,” 1891

Our third annual production, Twelfth Night, follows last summer’s The Comedy of Errors and, like it, builds on the Roman comedy of mistaken identity from Plautus. It combines a romantic story, farce and practical jokes in a festive, Christmas-in-July package that includes a woman of independent means and spirit (Viola – “the great and secret charm of Twelfth Night” according to Hazlitt); three songs that have passed of their own right into the English canon (“O Mistris mine where are you roming?,” “Come away, come away death,” and “When that I was and a little tine boy”); puns galore; Puritan-baiting; revelry and misrule leading up to the feast of the Epiphany (6 January) -- the “twelfth night” of Christmas. All this and a touch of irony too -- what Auden called “inverted commas around the ‘fun.’” Shakespeare himself is thought to have played the role of the Grinch-like Malvolio. The workshop concludes with a matinee performance for family, friends and other revelers at Main Street Theatre in the Village, Sunday, 18 July.

Mornings are spent developing technique (versification, characterization, movement, projection) and in rehearsal. No previous acting experience is required, but you must know your lines frontwards and backwards. Afternoons are reserved for PLAY BY PLAY, an eclectic sampling of dramatic literature on film, including plays you may be seeing for the first time such as Tom Stoppard’s Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead, Moliere’s The Bourgeois Gentleman, Gogol’s The Government Inspector, and Mérimée’s The Golden Coach. (For a fuller description, go to PLAY BY PLAY in the Wonderworks Summer 2010 listings; PLAY BY PLAY is included in the Shakespeare and Company tuition.)

This 5-week program of learning by doing is open to students from the Houston metropolitan area who will be entering the 10th, 11th, 12th grades or college. To apply, complete the student section of the PDF form and give it to a teacher who knows you well or a counselor to fill out the recommendation section. Your teacher/counselor should mail the completed form along with an official transcript directly to:

Shakespeare and Company
PO Box 667550
Houston, TX 77266-7550
Fax: 713.523.6145

To ensure full consideration, applications must be received by 3 May; early applications are encouraged. All applicants will be notified by 28 May; early applicants will be notified sooner.
If you have any questions or need additional information, call 713.301.4882 or email info@wonderworkshouston.org.

This program is made possible in part by a grant from Houston Endowment Inc.