Twelfth Night: Q & A with the director


By Xin Shao, Contributer

Twelfth Night,” directed by UNO Professor Cindy Melby Phaneuf, opens April 15 at the UNO Theatre. It’s the director’s third time working with this play, and her first opportunity to work with a student cast. UNO theater major Xin Shao spoke with Phaneuf regarding “Twelfth Night,” beginning with a brief plot synopsis.

“‘Twelfth Night,’ written by William Shakespeare, is the story of twins separated during a shipwreck,” Phaneuf said. “Their search for each other is symbolic of the search for one’s identity, for what’s missing in one’s life.”


Xin Shao:  What are your favorite parts of the play?

Cindy Melby Phaneuf: “Twelfth Night” emphasizes the fragility of life. It is a story of growing up and growing old. Through Feste, the magician’s role of this play, [there’s] recognition of the cycles of life: birth to death to rebirth. It is just calling the love from the depth of people’s hearts.

“Twelfth Night” shows people two kinds of love. Orsino and Olivia live in self-absorption; they care about what they love instead of others. Sir Toby wants to have a good life. He loves himself best. Conversely, Viola lives generously by loving others. She cares more about others, people who she loves. The twins’ relationship, Sebastian and Viola, is also an interesting part of this play. Viola first pretends to be a boy, looks like her brother. Sebastian learns to care more about others, like his sister.


XS:  Why will the audience like it?

CMP: I believe that we human beings all have some kind of same experiences: losing someone that you love, the emptiness of our feeling after loss. The whole play is expressing the emotion that we will normally have in our lives, the same kind of sensibilities. This play is showing this all through one kind of humor and brings joy to the audiences, a joy to our lives.

Also, the play was from a time of revolution and change. This makes our costume design. Another part is that this is Shakespeare’s most musical play. We play music in this play, vocal and instrumental. The last song, “Wind and the Rain,” a piece of original music composed by Paul Boesing, reflects the delicacy and grace of the period. Audiences will also enjoy the ‘feast of music.’


XS:  What can the audience look forward to?

CMP: Shakespeare’s work has very beautiful language. The audience will touch it and feel this kind of beauty. Again, through the theme of this play, losing and searching, audiences will enjoy the whole process with us. This play guides people to their own memories and stories. I hope people will enjoy this wonderful play and have a good time.


Previews run April 13-14 with performances on April 15-16, and April 20-23 in the UNO Theatre. Tickets are free for UNO students who present a valid UNO ID.