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Mease’s Finale: Twelfth Night

The+cast+of+Twelfth+Night+gets+a+laugh+in+rehearsal+for+this+weekends+show.+Photo+by+Sarina+Lincoln.
The cast of “Twelfth Night” gets a laugh in rehearsal for this weekend’s show. Photo by Sarina Lincoln.

Associate Professor Ellen Mease, theatre and dance, who will be going into senior faculty status after this semester, will present “Twelfth Night” in Roberts Theater this weekend as her final directorial production at the College.

According to Mease, this production of “Twelfth Night” will mix Shakespeare’s original text with modern flourishes, incorporating jazz music and a 70s setting. Mease incorporated these modern elements to pay homage to her original production of the show back in 1979. She also dedicates this production to the original cast of Grinnell students from 1979 and to Ed Moore, Grinnell College’s former resident Shakespearean, who passed away last August.

The Shakespearean comedy’s central narrative follows Viola (played by Molly Stone ’20) who finds herself alone in an unknown land following a shipwreck. Viola, mistakenly assuming that her twin brother Sebastian (played by Nathaniel Zhu ’19) has died, cross-dresses in order to find work and lands in an unusual love triangle.

Though the production is officially Mease’s last as a director, she said that the show will not technically be her last, as she will continue to work in the College’s theatre world for the foreseeable future.

In a reflection of Mease’s respected tenure at the College, cast members from the College’s 1979 production of “Twelfth Night” are returning to see the production. Alumnus Kevin Zoernig ’80, who played piano for the 1979 production, traveled to campus from New Mexico to be the show’s sound designer, composer and keyboard player for the show.

“Even 40 years ago, [Mease] was fully formed as a director,” he said. “[Mease] knows what she wants. … She’s demanding and really open to new things happening, with students improvising.” He said that the show is “almost exactly the same as it was in 1979.”

Zoernig’s daughter, Amelia Zoernig ’21, is an actress in the production.

“[Having my dad on campus is] so much fun because I get to see the campus through his eyes and see him light up about his experiences that he had while he at Grinnell 40 years ago, experiences that I am getting to have right now,” she said.

According to lead actress Molly Stone ’20, when the doors of Roberts Theater open this weekend, “as soon as the show starts, you will experience laughs and a whole lot of love.”

The cast of “Twelfth Night” gets a laugh in rehearsal for this weekend’s show. Photo by Sarina Lincoln.
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