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Shakespeare, Shaken 

Wednesday, Mar 23 2011
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We've told you that the African-American Shakespeare Company (as its name suggests) likes to take familiar productions and turn them on their heads. That's worth reiterating because of the really cool ways it makes the familiar seem new. Last fall it explored the true meaning of beauty via Cinderella by making the “ugly” stepsisters drop-dead gorgeous women who do terrible (read: ugly) things to their downtrodden sibling. This time the company flips Shakespeare, with a production of Twelfth Night. The play is a comedy involving (surprise!) mistaken identity. A woman named Viola masquerades as a man in order to get a job. A woman falls in love with Viola, thinking she's a man. Viola, meanwhile, falls in love with her employer, who's not interested because he also believes she's a man. Viola also has a twin brother, who she believes is dead. Sound like something that should be set in San Francisco? It is. And it's also in the 1940s, with a film noir theme. The score was written by Bay Area jazz composer Marcus Shelby. Shelby says the experience has been much different than making a record because the music must be written to fit acting, movement, and set design. “It's actually a very exciting process for a composer because everything is happening in real time and you have to respond,” he says. In other words, familiar, but new. Sounds like a perfect fit.
Saturdays, Sundays, 3 p.m. Starts: April 3. Continues through May 1, 2011

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Keith Bowers

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