Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Recess: How the 12th Night Became 'Twelfth Night'

"Twelfth Night" was written in 1601. William Shakespeare had earned considerable success and become a sort of Steven Spielberg/Tom Cruise of his time.

Back in his hometown of Stratford-Upon-Avon, Shakespeare invested in real estate and bought a large house he called New Place. In London he built and opened his own theatre, The Globe. And he became the adored playwright of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth I.

Here in Hollywood, rich folk will gather friends together for an evening of movies and martinis enjoyed in the private screening rooms of Bel Air mansions. Or so I've heard.

In Elizabethan England, Her Highness, a bit of a party gal, did essentially the same thing by inviting her court together for an evening of plays.

It is thought that to celebrate the twelfth night of Christmas, Elizabeth summoned Will to whip up a little entertainment, and he scratched out a laugh-a-minute romp called "Twelfth Night," or "What You Will."

Apparently, he spent more time on character and plot than title. Those two options strike me as a tad last-minute and, dare I say, lazy. But what you will...agree or disagree...it was no doubt a riotous evening made more so due to a delicious banquet of boiled lamb and baked calves feet.

Loud guffaws and belches likely filled the hall as the carousers quaffed quarts of mead, apple wine and drinks named Mad Dog and Left Leg. Good times. Good, good times.

New Place photo from InfoBritain


  1. He probably figured the publisher would change the title anyway. The marketing department was all "We gotta appeal to the 14-25 male demographic. Let's call it "The Hangover." What happens in Illyria stays in Illyria!


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