Twelfth Night

Written by William Shakespeare

Thurs 6th - Sat 8th December & Thurs 13th - Sat 15th December 1979

Directed by Jacquie Penrose

"Some are born great, some achieve greatness and some have greatness thrust upon them". WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE - Twelfth Night.

AuthorWilliam Shakespeare

William Shakespeare (1564 - 1616)

Shakespeare is considered by many to be the greatest playwright of all time and is possibly the most famous playwright in the English-speaking world. Born in Stratford-upon-Avon, he was also probably educated there, however very little is known of his early life. The next documented event in his life is his marriage in 1582 to Anne Hathaway. The couple had a daughter the following year and twins in 1585. Another gap followed (referred to by some scholars as 'the lost years') with Shakespeare only reappearing in London in 1592, when he was already working in the theatre.

Shakespeare's acting career was spent with the Lord Chamberlain's Company, which was renamed the King's Company in 1603 when James succeeded to the throne. The group acquired interests in two theatres in the Southwark area of London, near the banks of the Thames - the Globe and the Blackfriars.

Shakespeare's poetry was published before his plays, with two poems appearing in 1593 and 1594, dedicated to his patron Henry Wriothesley, Earl of Southampton. Most of Shakespeare's sonnets (of which there were 154 in all) were probably written at this time as well. Records of Shakespeare's plays begin to appear in 1594 - the first of which was Richard III - and he produced roughly two a year until around 1611 making 37 in all. Shakespeare spent the last five years of his life in Stratford, and he was buried in the Holy Trinity Church there. The first collected edition of his works wasn't published until 1623, some 7 years after his death.

PlayTwelfth Night

This comedy was believed to have been written around 1602 but was was not published until its inclusion in the 1623 'First Folio' after Shakespeare's death.

Viola and her twin brother Sebastian have been shipwrecked off the coast of Illyria. Each believes that the other has been drowned. Viola disguises herself as a boy and, under the name of Cesario, enters the service of the duke Orsino. The duke sends Cesario to woo the lady Olivia on his behalf, but Olivia falls in love with the lovely 'boy'. Viola/Cesario, meanwhile, has fallen in love with Orsino. Sebastian is saved by the sea captain Antonio and he too arrives in Illyria. Malvolio, Olivia's steward, disapproves of the other members of her household - her kinsman Sir Toby Belch, his friend Sir Andrew Aguecheek and the jester Feste. Led by the ingenuity of Maria, Olivia's waiting-woman, these three plot Malvolio's downfall. Olivia meets Sebastian and, mistaking him for Cesario, arranges for them to be secretly married. Further confusion follows upon mistakes as to the identity of the twins. Orsino is furious at the apparent falseness of his page, but, with the eventual meeting of the twins, true identities are revealed and Orsino recognises his love for Viola.

Confusion abounds with jealousy, mistaken identity, disguise, comedy, fights and duels in this classic Shakespeare comedy.

The Bench Production

Twelfth Night poster image

This play was staged at Havant Arts Centre, East Street Havant - Bench Theatre's home since 1977.


OrsinoRod James
Sir Toby BelchDavid Penrose
Sir Andrew AguecheekAnthony Elliott
FesteDavid Brown
MalvolioJohn Scadding
Sea CaptainTony Adams
ServantTony Adams
SebastianRoger Thurling
FabianBrian Sweatman
PriestDerek Cusdin
ValentineKeith Woodason
Second OfficerKeith Woodason
CarioPaul Morris
First OfficerPaul Morris
ViolaJill Sawyer
OliviaSuzie Gibbs
MarciaRobbie Cattermole
MusicianJohn Davies
Attendant LordJohn Hampson
AntonioRay Osborne


Director Jacquie Penrose
Stage Manager Jim Charlton
Lighting Terry Cattermole
Fred Jeffries
Costumes Linda James
Poster Design Chris Shaw
Publicity Tony Czapp

Director's Notes

It is said that the modern Yugoslavia is the equivalent of Shakespeare's Illyria. However, there seems to be little about the place that bears any relation to a real country. It is more akin to a fairy land, or even a looking-glass world, where the topsy-turviness of Twelfth Night - traditionally a night of misrule - is entirely suitable. The play is subtitled 'What you will'; it is also a play about fools, about love, about the folly of love and the love of folly.

Jacquie Penrose


The News F.N.

'Twelfth Night' seventh heaven

Audiences at amateur dramatic productions are often impressed by the company's ability to make so much from so little. As the Bench Theatre is not a group with greatness thrust upon it, the latest production, 'Twelfth Night', which opened last night at Havant Arts Centre, worked hard to provide a clever and bright performance. With a nearly bare set and few props, the cast files the small theatre with vitality and energy. The actors, who first appeared in a dark tableau against the background of a quick pace without skimming over dialogue. Shakespeare's 'Twelfth Night' centres around a love triangle in which the pivotal character is a young woman who masquerades as a man.

The character is handled with modest expertise by Jill Sawyer as Viola, who hides her love for Orsino (Rod James) behind a lad's clothing. David Penrose and Anthony Elliott has a field day with the roguish knights, Sir Toby Belch and Sir Andrew Aguecheek. Aided and abetted by Robbie Cattermole (Maria) and Brian Sweatman (Fabian), they weave a cruel plot to embarrass the pompous Malvolio. John Scadding kept a disciplined rein on his role as Malvolio. He made the most of the hilarious character while keeping him constantly pompous and aloof throughout the play. Susie Gibbs, Roger Thurling, and Ray Osborne gave strong straight performances which picked up the dramatic aspect with which all Shakespearian comedies are balanced.

Linda James' costume work provided an effective garb which avoided clashing with the minimal background and set. The production was polished, tasteful and made for an enjoyable evening. Unfortunately, the promised production of Chekhov's 'Three Sisters', which was originally scheduled for March has had to be postponed. However the Bench has promised another production will fill the gap. The Arts Centre has given the Bench Players an excellent venue to present talented amateur dramatics to a sizable audience. Publicity director Mr Tony Czapp said audiences have reached the 500 mark in the theatre. But if high quality productions such as 'Twelfth Night' continue to be presented, the tiny East Street playhouse will become a bit cramped. Performances of 'Twelfth Night' continue tonight, tomorrow and next Thursday, Friday and Saturday. The play begins at 7.30 p.m.

The News, 7th December 1979

Production Photographs