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Twelfth Night; or, What You Will (1983)

Twelfth Night; or, What You Will

A Royal Shakespeare Company production of Shakespeare's play, performed at the Royal Shakespeare Theatre, Stratford-Upon-Avon (20 April 1983 - January 1984).

Running time: 3 hours and 15 minutes (including interval)


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The first photo shows Zoe Wanamaker in rehearsal.  The second shows Zoe Wanamaker and Miles Anderson, also in rehearsal.  The third shows various characters, including Sebastian (played by Nigel Cooke) and Viola (Zoe Wanamaker) towards the centre.  The fourth and fifth show Viola.  The sixth shows Orsino and Viola.

With thanks to Nadine for some of these photos.


Twelfth Night is a comedy of mistaken identity, with aspects of tragedy.

Viola and her twin brother, Sebastian, are shipwrecked off the coast of Illyria.  They are separated in the chaos, and each subsequently believes the other has drowned.

Once ashore, and with the help of a sea captain, Viola disguises herself as a boy and assumes the name Cesario, entering the service of the Duke of Orsino.  The Duke sends 'Cesario' to woo Olivia on his behalf - but the gentlewoman falls in love with the servant instead.

Meanwhile, Antonio has come to the aid of Sebastian, whom Olivia mistakes for Cesario.  She and Viola's twin brother are then secretly married, much to the latter's bemusement!

As the play concludes, true identities are revealed and Orsino realises that he loves Viola.


Orsino ... Miles Anderson
Valentine, a Gentleman of the Court ... Griffith Jones
Curio, a Gentleman of the Court ... Cyril Nri
A Lord ... Paul Spence
First Officer (Member of Orsino's Guard) ... Jeremy Wilkin
Second Officer (Member of Orsino's Guard) ... Paul Clayton
Third Officer (Member of Orsino's Guard) ... Simon Treves
Fourth Officer (Member of Orsino's Guard) ... Peter Lennon
Viola ... Zoë Wanamaker
Sea Captain ... Jeremy Wilkin
Sailors ... Peter Lennon and Simon Treves
Olivia ... Sarah Berger
Sir Toby Belch, her cousin ... John Thaw
Sir Andrew Aguecheek ... Daniel Massey
Maria, a gentlewoman ... Gemma Jones
Malvolio, her steward ... Emrys James
Feste the Fool ... Richard O'Callaghan
Fabian ... Stanley Page
Sir Topas, the curate ... Stanley Dawson
Lady in Waiting ... Selena Carey Jones
Servant ... Victoria Wicks
Sebastian ... Nigel Cooke
Antonio ... Christopher Neame

Musicians: Richard Brown (keyboards), Christopher Lacey (flute), Victor Slaymark (clarinet), Brian Newman (horn), Duncan Hollowood (horn), Tony McVey (percussion), Wilfred Gibson (violin), John Francis (violin), and Andrea Hess (cello)

The following cast changes were made when the production transferred venues.

At the Theatre Royal: Caroline Harris (Lady in Waiting)

At the Barbican: Derek Smee (Curio), Roger Hyams (Third Officer), Jeffrey Robert (Fourth Officer), Joanne Pearce (Olivia), Stephen Moore (Sir Toby Belch), Sheridan Ball (Servant), DeNica Fairman (Servant), Graham Sinclair (Antonio)


At the Barbican
Director: John Caird
Designer: Robin Don
Costume Designer: Alix Stone
Lighting Designer: David Hersey
Music: Ilona Sekacz
Sound tape by: John A Leonard
Fight Director: Malcolm Ranson
Company Voice Work: Cicely Berry
Musical Director: Richard Brown
Assistant Director: Jeremy Bell
Stage Manager: Rachael Whitteridge
Deputy Stage Manager: Gail Berryman
Assistant Stage Manager: Peter Miller
Programme compiler: Ellen Goodman
Rehearsal Photographers: Donald Cooper and Clive Trotman
Production Photographer: Donald Cooper


This is the third production of Twelfth Night on which Zoë has worked.  It gave her the opportunity to act as Viola for the second time.  Having previously appeared as Olivia in 1971, then Viola in 1973, she was clearly familiar with the play; nevertheless, she did not necessarily want her performance in 1983 to be coloured by the previous productions in which she had been involved.  Instead, Zoe wished to approach the part of Viola afresh - 'as a blank sheet of paper', in her words - in readiness for a new interpretation of Shakespeare's work (see her essay in Players of Shakespeare 2).

If playing 'the driving force of the play' was a daunting task, Zoe grew in confidence after her performances as Viola at the Royal Shakespeare Theatre.  Certain changes were made to Viola's appearance around that time, helping her to feel more comfortable on stage than had previously been the case.  The character's original costume was exchanged for a less bulky design, increasing Zoe's freedom of movement.  Viola's wig was also dispensed with when Zoe cut her own hair short, in order more fully to inhabit the role of a young woman disguised as a boy.  By the time Twelfth Night reached the Barbican, she observes, 'I found myself much more confident in the words and began to enjoy myself in the part' (see Players of Shakespeare 2).

In 1984, Zoe earned an Olivier Award nomination for the Best Actress of the Year in a Revival for her performance in Twelfth Night.

Twelfth Night is one of the many productions in which Zoë has appeared with the prestigious Royal Shakespeare Company, which she joined in 1976.  Her other RSC productions during the 1980s include The Time of Your Life (1983), The Comedy of Errors (1983), Mother Courage and Her Children (1984), and Othello (1989).


Twelfth Night by William Shakespeare

Players of Shakespeare 2, edited by Russell Jackson and Robert Smallwood (collection of essays, including Zoe's discussion about playing Viola, a preview of which is available on Google Books)

Related links

Twelfth Night (Royal Shakespeare Theatre) production photos - AHDS Performing Arts Database - Designing Shakespeare Collection

Twelfth Night production photos - Photostage (search the collection using the keywords 'Wanamaker' and 'Twelfth' to view images)

Twelfth Night (Royal Shakespeare Theatre) production information - Shakespeare Birthplace Trust (information about the production at its subsequent venues can be found by searching the RSC Performance Database on the Trust's website)

Twelfth Night plot summary and performance history - RSC Shakespeare

Twelfth Night complete text - Massachusetts Institute of Technology

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