Twelfth Night



Due to its themes such as young women seeking independence in a "man's world", "gender-bending" and "same-sex attraction" (albeit in a roundabout way),[33] there have been a number of re-workings for the stage, particularly in musical theatre, among them Your Own Thing (1968), Music Is (1977), All Shook Up (2005), and Play On! (1997), the last two jukebox musicals featuring the music of Elvis Presley and Duke Ellington, respectively. Another adaptation is Illyria, by composer Pete Mills. Theatre Grottesco created a modern version of the play from the point of view of the servants working for Duke Orsino and Lady Olivia. The adaptation takes a much deeper look at the issues of classism, and society without leadership. In 1999, the play was adapted as Epiphany by the Takarazuka Revue, adding more overt commentary on the role of theatre and actors, as well as gender as applied to the stage (made more layered by the fact that all roles in this production were played by women).[34]


In 1910, Vitagraph Studios released the silent, short adaptation Twelfth Night starring actors Florence Turner, Julia Swayne Gordon and Marin Sais.

There was a 1986 Australian film.

The 1996 film adapted and directed by Trevor Nunn and set in the 19th century, stars Imogen Stubbs as Viola, Helena Bonham Carter as Olivia and Toby Stephens as Duke Orsino. The film also features Mel Smith as Sir Toby, Richard E. Grant as Sir Andrew, Ben Kingsley as Feste, Imelda Staunton as Maria and Nigel Hawthorne as Malvolio. Much of the comic material was downplayed into straightforward drama, and the film received some criticism for this.[35]

The 2001 "Disney Channel Original Movie" "Motocrossed" sets the story in the world of motocross racing.

In the 2004 movie Wicker Park, Rose Byrne's character Alex plays Viola in an amateur production of Twelfth Night.

The 2006 film She's the Man modernises the story as a contemporary teenage comedy (as 10 Things I Hate About You did with The Taming of the Shrew). It is set in a prep school named Illyria and incorporates the names of the play's major characters. For example, Orsino, Duke of Illyria becomes simply Duke Orsino ("Duke" being his forename). The story was changed to revolve around the idea of soccer rivalry but the twisted character romance remained the same as the original. Viola, the main character, pretends to be her brother Sebastian, and a girl named Olivia falls in love with Viola as Sebastian. She also goes to restaurant named "Cesario's". Two of Duke's Illyria soccer teammates are named Andrew and Toby.

Shakespeare in Love contains several references to Twelfth Night. Near the end of the movie, Elizabeth I (Judi Dench) asks Shakespeare (Joseph Fiennes) to write a comedy for the Twelfth Night holiday. Shakespeare's love interest in the film, "Viola" (Gwyneth Paltrow), is the daughter of a wealthy merchant who disguises herself as a boy to become an actor; while Shakespeare, a financially struggling playwright suffering from writer's block is trying to write Romeo and Juliet. She is presented in the final scene of the film as William Shakespeare's "true" inspiration for the heroine of Twelfth Night. In a nod to the shipwrecked opening of Shakespeare's Twelfth Night, the movie includes a scene where the character Viola, separated from her love by an arranged marriage and bound for the American colonies, survives a shipwreck and comes ashore to Virginia.

The play was referenced in the movie V For Vendetta. The character V quotes: "Conceal me what I am, and be my aid... for such disguise as haply shall become the form of my intent" as he's dancing with Evey.


On 14 May 1937, the BBC Television Service in London broadcast a thirty-minute excerpt of the play, the first known instance of a work of Shakespeare being performed on television. Produced for the new medium by George More O'Ferrall, the production is also notable for having featured a young actress who would later go on to win an Academy Award – Greer Garson. As the performance was transmitted live from the BBC's studios at Alexandra Palace and the technology to record television programmes did not at the time exist, no visual record survives other than still photographs.[36]

The entire play was produced for television in 1939, directed by Michel Saint-Denis and starring another future Oscar-winner, Peggy Ashcroft. The part of Sir Toby Belch was taken by a young George Devine.

In 1957, another adaptation of the play was presented by NBC on U.S. television's Hallmark Hall of Fame, with Maurice Evans recreating his performance as Malvolio. This was the first color version ever produced on TV. Dennis King, Rosemary Harris, and Frances Hyland co-starred.

In 1966 there was an Australian TV version.

Another version for UK television was produced in 1969, directed by John Sichel and John Dexter. The production featured Joan Plowright as Viola and Sebastian, Alec Guinness as Malvolio, Ralph Richardson as Sir Toby Belch and Tommy Steele as an unusually prominent Feste.

Yet another TV adaptation followed in 1980. This version was part of the BBC Television Shakespeare series and featured Felicity Kendal in the role of Viola, Sinéad Cusack as Olivia, Alec McCowen as Malvolio and Robert Hardy as Sir Toby Belch.

In 1988, Kenneth Branagh's stage production of the play, starring Frances Barber as Viola and Richard Briers as Malvolio, was adapted for Thames Television.

In 1998 the Lincoln Center Theater production directed by Nicholas Hytner was broadcast on PBS Live From Lincoln Center. It starred Helen Hunt as Viola, Paul Rudd as Orsino, Kyra Sedgwick as Olivia, Philip Bosco as Malvolio, Brian Murray as Sir Toby, Max Wright as Sir Andrew, and David Patrick Kelly as Feste.

A 2003 telemovie adapted and directed by Tim Supple is set in the present day. It features David Troughton as Sir Toby, and is notable for its multi-ethnic cast including Parminder Nagra as Viola and Chiwetel Ejiofor as Orsino. Its portrayal of Viola and Sebastian's arrival in Illyria is reminiscent of news footage of asylum seekers.

An episode of the British series Skins, entitled Grace, featured the main characters playing Twelfth Night, with a love triangle between Franky, Liv and Matty, who respectively played Viola, Olivia and Orsino.


In 1937 an adaptation was performed on the CBS Radio Playhouse starring Orson Welles as Orsino and Tallulah Bankhead as Viola. A year later, Welles played Malvolio in a production with his Mercury Theater Company.

There have been several full adaptations on BBC Radio. A 1982 BBC Radio 4 broadcast featured Alec McCowen as Orsino, Wendy Murray as Viola, Norman Rodway as Sir Toby Belch, Andrew Sachs as Sir Andrew Aguecheek, and Bernard Hepton as Malvolio; in 1993, BBC Radio 3 broadcast a version of the play (set on a Caribbean Island), with Michael Maloney as Orsino, Eve Matheson as Viola, Iain Cuthbertson as Malvolio, and Joss Ackland as Sir Toby Belch; this adaptation was broadcast again on 6 January 2011 by BBC Radio 7 (now Radio 4 Extra). 1998 saw another Radio 3 adaptation, with Michael Maloney, again as Orsino, Josette Simon as Olivia and Nicky Henson as Feste. In April 2012, BBC Radio 3 broadcast a version directed by Sally Avens, with Paul Ready as Orsino, Naomi Frederick as Viola, David Tennant as Malvolvio and Ron Cook as Sir Toby Belch.


In 1942, Gerald Finzi set the songs "O Mistress Mine" (Act II, Scene 3) and "Come Away, Come Away, Death" (Act II, Scene 4) to music as part of his song cycle on Shakespearean texts Let Us Garlands Bring.

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