Twelfth Night: You've seen the play, now read the blog

February 7, 2019

Working on a fun scene today set on Twelfth Night which was important even in the Mid Eighteenth Century. Just like Shakespeare's play, miss-rule reigns and the household goes topsy-turvy for the night. Reminds me of the 'spirit nights' - All Souls' Eve and the Midsummer Solstice when social law as well as natural law is turned on its head and creatures from another world come out to roam.

In the play, Sir Toby Belch comes downstairs to mix with the witty Maria in a hierarchal reversal. Power is subverted, the pompous are mocked, it's the revenge of the little guy, maybe. Elsewhere in the story the boy actor, acting as a female character dressing up as a male character, is hopelessly in love. This play has no fairies, no eye potions, no furry strap-on ears, yet anarchy rules supreme ( until the end, anyway). That's what Twelfth Night allowed, a letting off of steam, but for one night only. Servants and their employers mixed, often partyed, sharing food and even dancing together. A 'King and Queen' was picked by chance out of a special cake ( often a very alchoholic pudding with rings hidden in it) and both the Wren House and the Mari Lwyd Wassailing practices were assocoated with the date, the Old New Year, twelve days after Christmas. Both rituals involved gangs of men going out in the dark, singing, chanting saucy songs and drinking lots of alcohol. As a writer the possibilities are irresistible to get social barriers broken down, everyone drunk  and off their guard. Bring it on! 

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