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A New World for Shakespeare

March 12, 1992|ANNE KLARNER

Ed Douglas, a Glendale Community College instructor, thinks Shakespeare's comedy "Twelfth Night" is out of this world. So when he decided to direct it at the college, that's literally where he set the play.

"In my mind, I kept getting a vision of a futuristic world," he said, explaining whence the idea came, "and I thought, why can't this be the planet of Illyria instead of the land of Illyria?"

Illyria, for those of us who have forgotten, is where Viola washes up after the ship she's aboard sinks. She dresses as a man to protect herself, only to fall in love with Duke Orsino, who is in love with Olivia, who falls for Viola, as a man. Then there's Malvolio, Olivia's snob servant, who gets tricked into believing that Olivia is in love with him, and if all that isn't confusing enough, Sebastian, Viola's identical twin brother, arrives in town creating all sorts of merry mix-ups.

So how far out does the production get?

"I told my designers I wanted something that we've never seen before," Douglas said. For example, "the swords look different but are used the same way. In my mind, in this time, there are no weapons that use electricity or gunpowder."

All original music has been composed for the production by GCC student Brian Howe. The text remains intact. "We changed one word," Douglas said.

On this planet, Douglas, 40, teaches movement for the theater department at GCC and public speaking for the language arts department. He has been at GCC for three years. He directed his first play, "Lover," by Brian Friel, when he was in college in Florida in 1971. In 1979, he received his master's degree in acting from CalArts. He's directing Shakespeare because "I sort of set myself a challenge," he said.

The project proved to be more challenging than he'd anticipated. The GCC College Auditorium, where the production will be staged is being renovated, turning the 1,000-seat "dinosaur" into a up-to-date 450-seat hall. The renovation is, alas, not complete.

"We've made it a positive," said Douglas, explaining that seats will be set up on stage, bringing the audience right up to the action. "It's very intimate."

"Twelfth Night" opens tonight and plays Thursdays to Sundays through March 29. Curtain times are 8 every night except Sundays, when they are at 2 p.m., with an additional matinee Saturday, March 28. Ticket prices are $6 for general admission, $5 students and seniors, $3 children 12 and under. Glendale Community College is at 1500 N. Verdugo Road.

May thou live long and prosper and may the Force be with thee.

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