Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night gets an innovative makeover, in a captivating new show: Viola, which blends aerial acrobatics and live music with the traditions of classical theatre.
Following a sold out premiere at the Scottish Mental Health Arts Festival, Viola is now coming to theatres across Scotland with upcoming performances in Glasgow, Edinburgh and Galashiels.
Theatre fans will delight in this emotional retelling of the Bard’s classic tale, which explores the complex psychological journey through identity, anxiety and isolation.
Twelfth Night is a Shakespearean comedy about changing identities and turning conventions on their head as, finding herself shipwrecked on unfamiliar lands and bereft of her beloved twin brother, Viola is forced to disguise herself as a male courtier in order to gain employment and favour with the local Duke Orsino.
With the Bard’s text spoken by Scottish actors woven into the soundscape, Viola is performed as a solo show, told purely from her point of view.
Depicted by Scottish aerialist and acrobat Adam Wright, Viola further deepens the conversation on gender and identity by casting a male in this traditionally female role. With breathtaking aerial silks, rope and floor based acrobatics, this show offers audiences a highly skilled display of theatrical spectacle and physical prowess.
Behind the show is a powerful creative duo: director Charlotte McKechnie and performer Adam Wright.
Charlotte, who devised the show to tell a different side of the story, is a classically trained Opera Singer and recent graduate of the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland.
In describing the show, she said: “Viola’s point of view is often lost in the larger context of the Twelfth Night, so I created Viola to give her a chance to tell the tale from her point of view, which gives the audience more insight into her feelings about her journey and eventual marriage”.
Gender and LGBT issues have also been central in their process of creation.
Adam, a graduate of the National Centre for Circus in London, who teaches at Glasgow’s Circus School, Aerial Edge, said: “Creating Viola was an intensive process for me, both physically and mentally. How does one be feminine without resorting to stereotypes? How does one perform masculinity? How do you create a character who is both and neither? While creating Viola I wanted to explore what gender meant to me and how my body moved rather than rely on tropes and expectation. I drew from my past. Growing up, I tried to hide the aspects of myself that made me unique, back before I knew I was different, before I knew of my queerness.”
Catch Viola at the Platform Theatre, Glasgow on Thursday, October 10 at 7pm.