Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Twelfth Night, or What You Will.

Twelfth Night, or What You Will.

Yet another belated Twelfth Night greeting! My computer and phone connection are all working fine now (it appears, fingers crossed), so I'm in serious catch-up mode.

Of course, many know the expression Twelfth Night from the Shakespeare play of that name. I am a huge Shakespeare - I'm no expert and there's a lot I haven't seen, but what I have I like. The man was a genius and so much of the English we use to-day comes from him.

Here I have mocked up a poster for a Polish production of the play, performed at (or by?) the Teatr Novy (New Theatre). Why you ask? Well, two reasons - one, I adore Polish and Czech film and theatre posters and wanted to produce something graphic, in a similar vein. And secondly, of course, I am also terribly proud of my Polish ancestry (especially as just before Christmas I discovered that during the First World War my Grandfather was in Haller's Blue Army, fighting with France, and instrumental in the formation of the modern Polish state immediately after the war. Before that Poland as an idependent nation had not existed since before the time of Napolean).

I have tried to distill the whole play into a single figure or scene. The drapes at the top obviously signify a play ('We shall draw the curtain and show you the picture', Act I, Scene 5). But they also double as clouds, with rain-drops - a nod to the fool Feste's closing song 'heigh-ho, the wind and the rain'. The drops might also be tears, or even blood, hinting at the piece's bitter-sweet undercurrent. The yellow-stocking'd and gartered leg, Twelfth Night's key motif, refers to the trick played on the countess Olivia's puritan steward Malvolio. But within the heavy trousers and being a very feminine leg it also suggests both the boistrousness of Sirs Toby Belch & Andrew Aguecheek, and Viola's cross-dressing masquerade as the page boy Cesario. I have also included the play's most famous line (in English!) - 'If Music be the Food of love, play on', sighed by a love-sick Duke Orsino for the unattainable Olivia.

The only things I have left out, that I thought of including, were shells and/or sand on the foreground to represent the shores of Illyria where Viola is washed ashore after her ship is wrecked at the play's opening, and a bottle of Sack (sherry) to show the drunken mayhem that runs through the piece!

Remember this: 'Love sought is good, but giv'n unsought is better', Act III, Scene 1


Clive Hicks-Jenkins said...

Well no wonder you're so damned good, with Polish blood coursing through your veins. Poland has such a tradition of brilliant illustration and graphic design. You're in the flow of your forebears!

My friend Simon is about to open in Peter Hall's new production of Twelfth Night... first preview today... and so your poster design caught my eye immediately. What a lovely thing it is!

Paul Bommer said...

Thank you Clive. That's very kind.
I am such a huge fan of your work - I was put onto it by a friend Simon Martin who is curator at Pallent House. He mentioned you when I told him I was looking into the Mari Lwyd for my Advent Calendar.