Monday, December 19, 2016

Twelfth Night: Day 2

Period 1:

Please spend until 8:00 working on your play projects. We will then move to the classroom to take a quiz on Act 1 of Twelfth Night and begin reading Act II. After the quiz, please turn in your homework (see previous post for details!) You may use your homework on the quiz if you did it.

Written around 1601, Twelfth Night is based on the short story "Of Apolonius and Silla", which in turn was based on another story. It is named after the Twelfth Night holiday of the Christmas season.

Twelfth Night marks the end of a winter festival. The Lord of Misrule (sort of the mascot for this the Easter Bunny or Santa) symbolizes the world turning upside down. On this day the King and all those who were of high stature would become the peasants and vice versa. At the beginning of the twelfth night festival a cake containing a bean was eaten. The person who found the bean would run the feast--be "king for a day." Midnight signaled the end of his rule and the world would return to normal. The common theme was that the normal order of things was reversed. This Lord of Misrule tradition can be traced back to pagan festivals, such as the Celtic festival of Samhain and the Ancient Roman festival of Saturnalia.

The Winter Solstice (December 21st--that's tomorrow, folks!) historically marked the first day of many winter festivals. The 12 nights following and including the solstice represent the 12 zodiac signs of the year - and the 12th Night (New Years Day) is a culmination and celebration of the winter festivals. Thus, Shakespeare's title refers to New Years Day.

Food and drink are the center of this celebration. A special alcoholic punch called wassail is consumed especially on Twelfth Night, but throughout Christmas time, especially in the UK. Around the world, special pastries, such as the tortell and king cake are baked on Twelfth Night, and eaten the  following day for the Feast of the Epiphany celebrations.

What's the connection? Look for reversals (of fortune, as well as gender), drunken revelry (particularly Sir Toby Belch and Sir Andrew Aguecheek), and a general misrule or mayhem that occurs. Party on!

Shakespeare's Twelfth Night is one of his most loved comedies. Many of his comedies rely on the mistaken identity shtick, as well as the cross-dressing shtick. These theatrical conventions are taken from the Roman comedies and commedia traditions (remember commedia dell'arte?) Other shtick's or stereotypical characters include the pining lover, the wise fool, and the foolish master. In any case, there's mishaps, misrule, and bawdy drunkenness in this playful play. Enjoy!

Period 2: Classroom.

After our quiz, please read Act II-IV together. See below.

HOMEWORK: Please read through Act IV for Thursday. As you read, take note of the following:

ACT II: How does the action in act II become complicated? What complications exist to the plot?
ACT III: Identify one of the characters and explain this character's 'dark moment' (in what scene and line # does this occur?); identify the turning point for this act. How does this turning point change the plot or status of characters? Explain.
ACT IV: What enlightenment or anagnorisis happens in this act? (identify the scene and line # in which it occurs). 

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