Peter Gill, playwright and theatre director
Twelfth Night
Home | Up | News | Pieces | Résumé | Pictures | Studio | Publications | Links



Bookmark and Share

Twelfth Night

by William Shakespeare

Royal Shakespeare Company

Stratford-upon-Avon, 1974

The production transferred to the Aldwych Theatre the following year.

Act One is about 1 hour and 20 minutes. Act Two is about 1 hour and 10 minutes. There is one interval of 15 minutes.

The text for this production contains cuts of about 40 lines.

About the play

The Plot

The Duke Orsino, who rules over Illyria, is in love with the lady Olivia. Viola and her brother Sebastian are shipwrecked on the coast of Illyria and each believes the other drowned. Viola disguises herself as a boy, assumes the name of Cesario and enters the service of Duke Orsino. He sends Viola (Cesario) to woo Olivia on his behalf. The lady, believing Viola to be a boy, falls in love with her, while Viola herself secretly falls in love with her master, the Duke. Malvolio, the steward of Olivia's household, is tricked by Sir Toby Belch, her uncle; Sir Andrew Aguecheek, her wooer; Maria, her waiting-woman; and Feste, her fool; into believing himself beloved by the lady Olivia. To restrain his apparently insane delusion he is confined to a dark room. Sir Toby continues to amuse himself by tricking Sir Andrew Aguecheek into a duel with Viola. Antonio, the companion of her brother Sebastian, arrives and saves the situation. Olivia mistakes Sebastian for Viola, and they are secretly married. True identities are then revealed, Malvolio is released, and the play ends with the marriage of Viola to Orsino, and Maria to Sir Toby Belch.


The Roman dramatist Plautus developed a comic theme of the confused identity of twins which lived on to inspire many sixteenth century plays, among them Il Inganni (The Deceived), a carnival play performed in Siena in 1531, which undoubtedly provided a major source for Twelfth Night. But Il Inganni is a rumbustuous comedy; the elegiac tone of Shakespeare's play Twelfth Night is more consistent with Barnaby Riche's romantic story on the same theme, Apolonius and Silla from which, along with other tales in Riche's collection, Shakespeare seems to have borrowed.


Twelfth Night was not published until the 1623 Folio, seven years after Shakespeare's death. On stylistic evidence, scholars agree that it is one of Shakespeare's later comedies and was probably written in 1600, not long after As You Like It. It was certainly performed in 1602, since John Manningham, a lawyer of the Middle Temple, says in his diary entry for 2nd February of that year:

"At our feast wee had a play called "Twelve Night or What You Will."

Orsino John Price Also this season: Seyton/Donalbain in Macbeth. Work outside RSC includes: seasons at Great Yarmouth, Harrogate. Lincoln. Chesterfield, season at Sheffield (1971), Frank Moore in The Changing Room (London 1972). I Was Hitler's Maid (London 1972) Narrator in Under Milk Wood, Lucentio in The Taming of the Shrew (Sheffield 1972), Simon in The Caucasian Chalk Circle (Birmingham Rep 1974). Alan in Sam (Granada TV 1973/74), Stevie Gordon in Friendly Encounter (forthcoming Village Hall TV).
Curio, attending on Orsino Louis Sheldon Also this season: Guard in Measure for Measure. Charles I in World Turned Upside Down. Work outside RSC includes: Eric in The Nutcracker Suite (London 1965). Ariel in The Tempest (Ellen Terry Theatre 1967), Peppermint Twin in Warhol's Pork (Roundhouse 1971), a member of the cast of Joseph and His Technicolour Dreamcoat (Alberry 1973). Films include: Hubert in Our Mother's House (1967), John in Good-Bye Mr Chips (1968), Johan in I Like Women. Is That Serious (1973).
Valentine, attending on Orsino Walter McMonagle Also this season: Lord Manchester in World Turned Upside Down. Work outside RSC includes: season with Yvonne Arnaud Theatre, McCann in The Birthday Party, Commander Granges in Breaking Point. Florindo in The Servant of Two Masters and Ferdinand in The Tempest (all on tour. Century Theatre 1969/70), MacMorris in Henry V (Bath 1969), leading roles at Belgrade, Coventry, including Val Yeo in It's a Two Foot Six inches above the Ground World (1970), Gloucester in Richard III (1971). and the King of France in King Lear (Prospect Company 1972). Sammy in Within Two Shadows (Belfast 1972), Stan Sedgeman in Just Before Dawn (Richmond 1972), Ham in Noah (Yvonne Arnaud 1973), Joe in The Daughter-in-Law (Watermill, Newbury 1973), Jimmy Porter in Look Back in Anger (Plymouth 1973), Paul in Barefoot in the Park (Lincoln 1974). TV includes: Patrick Brophy in The Brophy Story (Thames 1969).
A Gentleman, attending on Orsino George Fenton Work with RSC includes: Musician in Island of the Mighty (1972). Work outside RSC includes: Boy in Forty Years On (London 1969). Henry in Private Road (film 1971), A season at Birmingham Rep (1971). Gardiner in Butley (London 1972), A Day Out (TV 1972), Monsieur Rowland in Cherie (TV 1972). The Pleasure Principle (Royal Court Theatre Upstairs 1973). Music: composed for Private Road (film) Romeo and Juliet (1971) with Carl Davis.
Viola, twins Jane Lapotaire Also this season: Lady Macduff in Macbeth. Work outside RSC includes: Joined Bristol Old Vic in 1965. Played leading roles in The Homecoming, War and Peace, Mrs Warren's Profession and The Cherry Orchard. Joined the National Theatre in 1967. Parts include: Antoinette in A Flea in Her Ear, Judith in The Dance of Death, Mrs Falnall and Mincing in The Way of the World, Miss Dennis in Home and Beauty, and for Young Vic: Zerbinetta in Scapino, Katharina in The Taming of the Shrew.
Sebastian, twins Robert Lloyd Also this season: Ariel in The Tempest. Work with RSC includes: Larry in Rudkin's Afore Night Come. Jacques Roux in Weiss's The Marat/Sade, Dromio in A Comedy of Errors (1965), Lucentio in The Taming of the Shrew (1967); appeared in Peter Brook's US and Edgar in King Lear (film). Puck and Philostrate in Brook's A Midsummer Night's Dream (London and tour 1973). Work outside RSC includes: Gary in Heathcote Williams' AC/DC (Royal Court 1970), worked with Peter Brook's International Centre for Theatre Research in Paris and Persia (1971/72), Churchill's People for BBC TV.
Olivia Mary Rutherford Work with RSC includes: Alice in Bartholomew Fair, Juliet in Measure for Measure, Nadya in Enemies. Hermia in Midsummer Night's Dream (Stratford 1970, American tour, Aldwych 1971), Calpurnia in Julius Caesar, Octavia in Antony and Cleopatra (Aldwych 1973 and TV 1974), and Alice Faulkner in Sherlock Holmes (Aldwych 1973/74). Work outside RSC includes: Fraulein Rabenjung in The Tutor (Royal Court 1968), various parts in The Hero Rises Up (London 1968), Glumdalclitch in Gulliver's Travels (London 1969), Haze Cooke in Yelapal (London 1969), Lika in The Promise (Welsh Theatre Company 1972), Ingrid, The Green Woman and Anitra in Peer Gynt (Newcastle 1973).
Sir Toby Belch, her uncle David Waller Also this season: Escalus in Measure for Measure. Work with RSC includes: Harry Belcher in Belcher's Luck. Pastor Manders in Ghosts, Duff in Landscape (1969 and 1973), Claudius in Hamlet, title role in Doctor Faustus (Theatregoround), Sylvester Heegan in The Silver Tassie, Bottom in A Midsummer Night's Dream (Stratford, Aldwych and on Broadway 1970/71), Old Bellair in The Man of Mode, Levshin in Enemies, Edward in, A Slight Ache. Senator Caldwell in Section Nine (The Place 1973 and Aldwych), Herbert Shanklin in Duck Song, Father Motilla in The Bewitched (both Aldwych 1974). Work outside RSC includes: The Doctor in The Miracle Worker (London 1961), title role in Serjeant Musgrave's Dance (Coventry 1963), Mr Price in Work is a Four Letter Word (film 1967); The Bankrupt, A Song at Twilight, Staff Room, The Piano Player and Helen — A Woman of Today (all TV 1972/73).
Sir Andrew Aguecheek, her wooer Frank Thornton Also this season: Duncan in Macbeth. Work outside RSC includes: with Sir Donald Wolfit's Company 1941; parts included: Fenton and Bardolph in The Merry Wives of Windsor, Lysander in A Midsummer Night's Dream, Laertes in Hamlet and Mosca in Volpone. followed by Angus and a lord in Sir John Gielgud's Macbeth (1942). After war service Southsea 'Rep, then 1947/50 toured in The Dancing Years and One Wild Oat. Mouche in. The Empty Chair (Oxford 1956), Caliph in Hassan (Dublin Festival 1960), Ludovico Nota in Naked (Dublin Festival 1960), Edward in Meals on Wheels (Royal Court 1965), Empton QC in Alibi for a Judge (London 1966), Minnit and Procurio in The Young Visiters (London 1968), Councillor Parker in the revival of When We Are Married (London 1970), Eeyore in Winnie the Pooh (London 1971/72). Appeared in many films over the last 13 years, has been involved in a lot of television comedy, particularly Michael Bentine's It's A Square World, The World of Beachcomber and many comedies, most recently Captain Peacock in Are You Being Served.
Malvolio, her steward Nicol Williamson Also this season: Macbeth. Work with RSC includes: SAC Albert Meakin in Nil Carborundum. Satin in The Lower Depths. Leantio in Women Beware Women, (all Arts Theatre 1962). Coriolanus in The Romans (1973). Work outside RSC includes: l-ti in That's Us. Black Will in Arden of Faversham (both Arts Cambridge and Royal Court 1961), Flute in A Midsummer Night's Dream. Malvolio in Twelfth Night. The Man at the End in Spring Awakening and Kelly in Kelly's Eye (all Royal Court 1962), Sebastian Dangerfield in The Ginger Man (Ashcroft. Croydon and Royal Court 1963), Bill Maitland in Inadmissible Evidence (Royal Court and Evening Standard Best Actor Award 1964), Wyndham's and New York 1965, New York Drama Critics Award 1965/66, and film 1967), Peter Wykeham in A Cuckoo in the Nest, Vladimir in Waiting for Godot, and Joe Johnson in Miniatures (Royal Court 1964/65), Sweeney Agonistes (Globe Theatre 1965), Alexei in Diary of a Madman (Duchess Theatre 1967), Plaza Suite (New York 1968). Hamlet (Roundhouse, Evening Standard Best Actor Award 1969, film New York and tour 1969), one-man show Midwinter Spring (Queen's Theatre 1972), Uncle Vanya, Nicol Williamson's Late Show (both New York 1973): The Bofors Gun. Laughter in the Dark (films 1968). The Reckoning (film 1969), The Jerusalem File (film 1971): Of Mice and Men (TV 1969), title role in Arturo Ui (TV 1971 and 1972), President Nixon in / Know What I Meant (Granada TV 1974).
Maria, her gentlewoman Patricia Hayes Also this season: Witch in Macbeth. Work outside RSC includes: Won the Gold Medal at RADA in 1928. Worked with the Oxford Players: Jevon Brandon Thomas's Company. Made her first appearance at Stratford-upon-Avon in 1934 in Henry V. In the 1930's, in London, parts included: Dora Parker in Night Must Fall (1936), Frankie in George and Margaret (1937), Ruby Birtle in When We Are Married (1938). In wartime radio played many parts from small boys to old ladies. On TV has appeared with Ted Ray, Arthur Haynes. Tony Hancock. Les Dawson. Benny Hill, Ken Dodd and others. In 1972 the name part in Edna, The Inebriate Woman for which she won the 1972 Television Actress of the Year Award. Most recently Mrs. Swabb in Habeas Corpus (London 1973). She has also made several films.
Feste, her clown Ron Pember Also this season: Porter in Macbeth. Work outside RSC includes: Rep at Clacton, Bexhill and Eastbourne (1949/59), Mermaid Theatre: Ballad singer in Gallileo, Wakefield Mystery Plays, Bardolph/Bates in Henry V. Trinculo in The Tempest, Black Dog in Treasure Island among others (1959/70). As a director at Mermaid (1968/71) Henry IV Parts I and II, also as co-author on Dick Turpin and Open on Sundays. With the National Theatre 1964/68: parts in Othello. Miss Julie, Royal Hunt of the Sun, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead. Much Ado About Nothing. Armstrong's Last Goodnight, Trelawney of the Wells (both Chichester). Bert in At the End of the Day (London 1974). Films include O What a Lovely War (1970), Young Winston (1972), Poor Cow (1963). The Land Time Forgot (1974). Many television appearances including Black Beauty, Cathy Come Home. Softly. Softly Thriller. Music and co-author of Jack the Ripper (London 1974).
Fabian Brian Hall Also this season: Jeremiah in World Turned Upside Down. Work outside RSC includes: parts in Crete and Sergeant Pepper (Royal Court 1972). P C Drake in Softly, Softly (BBC TV 1972). Villains (TV 1972). Redcap Sgt. in Hitler, My Part in His Downfall (film 1973), Armchair Theatre and Bowler (both TV 1973), Present Laughter (Leatherhead 1973), Why Bournemouth? (Kings Head 1973), General Hospital (1974). Schwartz in The Land Time Forgot (film 1974).
Priest Mark Dowse Also this season: Guard, Gentleman in Measure for Measure. Work outside RSC includes: Major roles in Rep at Oxford, Liverpool, Welsh National Theatre, Canterbury and Colchester. Design for Living (London 1974). Also several television appearances.
Ladies Gay Hamilton Also this season: Lady in Twelfth Night, Mariana in Measure for Measure. Work outside RSC includes: Liz and Grannie in Billy Liar (St. Andrews 1962), Six Characters in Search of an Author (Traverse 1966). Elizabeth in Voyage Round My Father (tour 1973). Television includes: Catriona in Kidnapped (1963). Effie Deans in Heart of Midlothian (1965). The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1966). Flora in St. Ives (1967). Jean Watt in Softly, Softly (1968/73), The Marrying Kind (1969). Emma in Albert and Victoria (1971), Man in a Suitcase (1968/69), Spy Trap (1972), Love Story (1973). Films include: Maid Marian in A Challenge of Robin Hood (1367), Flora Brady in The Luck of Barry Lyndon (to be released).
Angela Phillips Also this season: Whore in Measure for Measure Work outside RSC includes: seasons at Sheffield and Hull. Three years (1970/73) as leading actress with Liverpool Everyman, plays include Beattie in Roots, Isabella in Measure for Measure. Helena in Look Back in Anger. Regan in King Lear. TV includes: Brenda in From the First Day Out (Granada 1973).
Antonio, Sebastian's friend Paul Moriarty Also his season: Lennox in Macbeth. Work outside RSC includes: Bill in Billy Liar (1968), Stanley in A Streetcar Named Desire (both Belgrade, Coventry 1969). The Contractor (London 1971), Estragon in Waiting for Godot (Library 1971). At Bristol Old Vic parts in Alpha Beta, Subject to Fits, and Tooth of Crime (1973). Lord Burleigh in Elizabeth I (Theatre Upstairs, Royal Court 1973), Husband in Time and Time Again (1974), Ride Across Lake Constance (1974) and Morton in Vivat. Vivat Regina (1974) all Bristol Old Vic. TV includes: Colin Harvey in Coronation Street, Peter Pelham in Andrew Pelham (1972), David in Holly (1973), Feyodor in Love Story (1974), Frank in Bedtime Story (1974), Narrator in Ten Years On (1974). Quest for Love (film 1973).
A Sea Captain, Viola's friend Mark Dowse
Sailors, Viola's friends Richard Griffiths Also this season: Abhorson in Measure for Measure, Gonzalo in The Tempest. Work outside RSC includes: Salinas in Royal Hum of the Sun (Harrogate 1970), Edward in Henry IV (BBC radio 1971), Doolittle in Pygmalion (Orchard Theatre 1971). Chaplain in Mother Courage (also Orchard Theatre 1973). Macduff in Macbeth (Belfast 1973), York in Richard II (Manchester Library 1974), Park Keeper in Norma (television 1974).
Brian Hall
Anthony O'Donnell Also this season: Officer/Sailor in Twelfth Night. Guard in Measure for Measure: Jacob in World Turned Upside Down. Work outside RSC includes: season in Rep. including Bristol Old Vic. also Prospero in The Tempest (Welsh National Theatre 1973), Community Theatre at Half Moon Theatre.The Motor Show and Other People (Hampstead 1974).
Officers Richard Griffiths
Anthony O'Donnell
Directed by Peter Gill Work outside RSC includes: The Local Stigmatic (Traverse 1966). Much Ado About Nothing (Stratford Conn. 1969), Landscape and Silence (Lincoln Centre 1970 American premiere). Hedda Gabler (Stratford Ont. 1970). Macbeth (Stratford Ont. 1971), A Midsummer Night's Dream (Zurich 1972). The Daughter in Law (Bochum 1972). Work with Royal Court Theatre and Theatre Upstairs: A Collier's Friday Night (1965), The Ruffian on the Stair (1966), A Provincial Life (also adapted 1966). The Soldier's Fortune (1967), Crimes of Passion (1967), A Collier's Friday Night. The Daughter in Law, The Widowing of Mrs Holroyd (all 1968). Life Price (1969), Over Gardens Out (also wrote 1969), The Sleeper's Den (1969), The Duchess of Malfi (1971), Crete and Sergeant Pepper (1972). The Merry Go Round (also adapted 1974). The Sleeper's Den, which he also wrote was first produced in 1965. Films for BBC TV include: Joyce's Grace, Girl, A Matter of Taste, Fugitive (Play for Today to be seen in October). His production of The Daughter in Law won first prize at the Belgrade International Theatre Festival. Associate Director Royal Court Theatre 1970/72.
Designed by William Dudley Work outside RSC includes: Hamlet (Nottingham Playhouse 1970). Duchess of Malfi, Man is Man (both Royal Court 1971), Tyger (National Theatre co-designer with Jocelyn Herbert 1971), Cato Street (Young Vic 1971). The Good Natured Man (National Theatre 1971), Billy Budd- opera — (Hamburg State Opera 1972), I Claudius (West End 1972). Ripper (Half Moon Theatre 1973). Fall in and Follow Me (Half Moon Theatre 1973). Ashes (Open Space Theatre 1973), The Merry Go Round (Royal Court 1973). Oedipus Rex (Norwegian Opera 1974).
Costumes designed by Deirdre Clancy Work outside RSC includes: At Royal Court Theatre designed: Early Morning (1967), Houses by the Green (1968), Uncle Vanya (1970). The Sea (1973). Costumes for: D H Lawrence trilogy (1967/68), Trixie and Baba (1968), Lear (Munich), Bond's Lear (1971), Crete and Sergeant Pepper (1972). Designed Hedda Gabler (1970). Macbeth (1971) both Stratford Ontario, The Thrie Estaites (Edinburgh Festival 1971), Spring Awakening (National 1974). Films: Virgin and the Gypsy Girl from Petrovka.
Music by George Fenton
Assistant to the director Colin Cook Also this season: Macbeth. Work with RSC includes: assisted on Sherlock Holmes, Duck Song, The Bewitched (Aldwych 1973/74). Work outside RSC includes: assisted on The Changing Room (Royal Court and London 1971). Veterans, Freedom of the City. Bond's The Sea and directed Pretty Boy (all Royal Court 1971/73).
Lighting designed by Rory Dempster
Stage Manager Tim Richards
Deputy Stage Manager Susan Griffiths
Assistant Stage Manager Caroline Mackay
Musicians George Fenton
Alastair McLachlan
Anthony O'Donnell
Ian Reynolds
Michael Tubbs
Robin Weatherall
Photographs by John Haynes

Home | Up | Provincial Life | Breath of Life | The Aliens | Hens | Another Door Closed | Semper Dowland / Corridor | Small Change | Importance of Being Earnest | Gaslight | Look Back in Anger | The Voysey Inheritance | Epitaph for George Dillon | Days of Wine and Roses | Romeo and Juliet | Scenes from the Big Picture | Peter Gill Festival | York Realist | Radio plays | Luther | Speed-the-Plow | The Seagull | Friendly Fire | Certain Young Men | Mrs Klein | Tongue of a Bird | Cardiff East | A Patriot for Me | Uncle Vanya | New England | Way of the World | Juno and the Paycock | Marriage of Figaro | Harrison Birtwistle | Mean Tears | New Plays | Fool for Love, Lyric | Fool for Love | Antigone | Venice Preserv'd | Tales from Hollywood | Small Change (1983) | Kick for Touch | Major Barbara | Danton's Death | Much Ado (1981) | Don Juan | Month in Country | Scrape off the Black | Julius Caesar | Measure for Measure | Changeling | Cherry Orchard | Small Change (1976) | The Fool | As You Like It | Fishing | Twelfth Night | Merry-Go-Round | Schwieger Tochter | Crete and Sgt Pepper | Duchess of Malfi | Macbeth | Hedda Gabler | Landscape, Silence | Sleepers' Den (1969) | Over Gardens Out | Much Ado (1969) | Life Price | Daughter-in-Law tour | Lawrence season | O'Flaherty VC | Crimes of Passion | Daughter-in-Law (1967) | The Soldier's Fortune | A Provincial Life | O'Flaherty VC | Ruffian on the Stair | Local Stigmatic | Traverse | Albert Cobb | Collier's Friday Night | Sleepers' Den (1965)

Send mail to with questions or comments about this web site.  Copyright © 1999-2012

Last modified: 2012-03-15