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Frankie Says ‘Twelfth Night’

Churchill sets the bard in the ‘80s.

Is Duke Orsino more like Crockett or Tubbs? Churchill students will seek to answer this question during their performance of William Shakespeare’s “Twelfth Night,” which drama teacher Jessica Speck has set in the 1980s.

Speck noted that her students, who are too young to remember the ‘80s, have a fascination with the decade. “My students love the VH-1 series ‘I Love the ‘80s,’” Speck said.

“They were all born in ‘87, ‘88, ‘89. For them, it’s a funny piece of culture.”

As a result, the set will feature contrasting bits of ‘80s pop culture. On one side, “Miami Vice” with its teal and flamingo colors will be contrasted by the purple and chrome of the “Like a Virgin”-era Madonna.

Speck and her students collaborated on which elements of culture would be used but found that the students tended to view the entire recent pop culture past as a whole. “They would say, ‘Abba,’ and I’d have to say, ‘No, that was the ‘70s,’” Speck said.

She has tried not to take the setting and clothes too seriously. “I hope that the older audience will find it fun and kitschy,” Speck said.

Speck also thinks that setting the play in a more recent time period can better allow the students to relate to the scenes, which will help the audience to relate as well. “The only way the audience is going to understand is if [the students] understand,” Speck said.

“The really difficult thing is getting the words right,” said sophomore Michael Krug, who is playing Sebastian.

Krug is enjoying the challenge of setting the play in a different time period from the one for which it was written. “It’s a good idea, but it has to be done very well,” Krug said. He thinks the setting will help to draw in the audience.

“The majority of the audience will be able to relate,” said junior Mike Spencer, who plays the first officer.

The audience may also relate to the musical transitions between scenes. “People will recognize the songs,” said sophomore Tommy Chen, who plays Orsino.

Speck took her inspiration from the first “Austin Powers” movie, which featured musical interludes at certain points. In the Churchill version, students will perform short routines to music, which Speck hopes will help to reinforce the plot points. “It’s appropriate for the time,” Chen said.