BB: Twelfth Night, The Speeches

artwork - Leigh MacRae
artwork – Leigh MacRae

Welcome Brawlers to the speeches (and scenes) podcast of Twelfth Night!

Listen to or download the podcast.

As usual, we’ve picked out a few memorable or interesting moments from our recording of Twelfth Night. It was a blast to read and record.

No nobles were maimed in the recording of this podcast.

“O that I served that lady…” Act 1, Scene 2, lns 42-60
Speakers: Captain, Viola
In this scene, Viola washes up on shore and realises the following two things:

  1. “I am a young, unmarried woman with no chaperone. I have no father or brother around to guard me from any potential suitors. This is a dangerous situation. I could be raped or claimed as booty at any time!
  2. “I am a young, unmarried woman with no chaperone. I have no father or brother around to guard me from any potential suitors. This is an awesome situation. If I play my cards right, I will actually get the choose my own husband!

So what is her proposed solution? Dress up in her twin brother’s clothes and hide out as an eunuch. By the way, eunuch here doesn’t necessarily mean a castrated man but rather a chamberlain, someone who takes care of someone’s bedchamber. It’s a pretty good description of what Viola is supposed to be doing: finding a way to get Olivia into Orsino’s bedchamber. Instead she manages to put exactly who she wants in that bedchamber – herself. Clever girl.

Daniel thought it was pretty interesting to consider that in a play where the main character spends over 95% of the length of the play in disguise, she should be so quick to judge the captain’s trustworthiness based on his looks. I agree.

“Come, sir, you peevishly threw it to her; and her…” Act 2, Scene 2, lns 13-41
Speakers: Malvolio, Viola
We were pretty sure that Malvolio and Viola didn’t really interact in the play but this scene proves us wrong. It’s especially shameful on our part given that this is one of the most well-known speeches in Twelfth Night.

Olivia, who is trying to nail Cesario, send him a ring via Malvolio. It’s as soon as he leaves Viola with this ring that she realises what’s going on here: Viola loves Orsino but can’t have him without exposing her identity; Orsino is expecting Viola to win Olivia for him which means that Viola won’t be able to get him. To make matters worse, Olivia seems to be in love with Cesario… but has no clue that Cesario is actually a woman.

Does Viola freak out? Nope. She just assumes that this will all work itself out in the end somehow in time.

Huh. I guess she must have read this play already.

By the way, what will we ever do without Zoey nearby?

“What a caterwauling do you keep here! If my lady…” Act 2, Scene 3, lns 68-112
Speakers: Maria, Sir Toby Belch, Feste the Clown, Sir Andrew Aguecheek
When it comes to Sir Toby, Aguecheek and company, there are so many entertaining moments that it’s hard to choose. Honestly, we picked this scene (and let it play for a while) because we love Jay Reid’s drunken singing so much.

Can you hear us all laughing our asses off in the background? Yeah, that’s the idea. Lest anybody get confused: we’re not interested in scholarship and research, deep insights and exploring the meaning of it all. We like reading Shakespeare because we find it fun to do, to mess around with and to mess up. Often.

There are enough people who take their Shakespeare like cod liver oil: good for you but tastes awful. I say you should let the kids have a damned hot-dog from time to time. They don’t need to know it’s a nitrate-free, 100% certified organic grass-fed beef super hot-dog that costs about $40 for a package of 12.

Pass the relish!

“M, O, A, I; this simulation is not as the former: and…” Act 2, Scene 5, lns 131-150
Speakers: Malvolio
This scene of Malvolio reading a letter aloud may contain one of the most often misquoted speeches in Shakespeare. It’s not that people get the words wrong, it’s that they use the quote completely out of context.

How many of you have heard some or all of this before?

be not afraid of greatness: some
are born great, some achieve greatness, and some
have greatness thrust upon ’em

Fellow trekkies may remember a certain episode of DS9 where Worf recalls a very similar speech which was allegedly spoken by Kahless to convince general Martok to claim the mantle of leadership of the Klingon high council.

Do you find these words encouraging? Do they make you want to risk everything on the chance of success? Do they inspire your to seek out your destiny?

On their own, they might. But this ‘speech’ is in a letter, written by Maria, which has only one purpose: to goad Malvolio into making a pass at his boss so Maria, Sir Toby and the other can make fun of him when he gets shot down.

I always thought that Worf liked you Martok but I seems he’s just an ass looking for a good laugh at your expense.

“This is the air; that is the glorious sun…” Act 4, scene 3, lns 1-21
Speakers: Sebastian
This is one another one of the commonly quoted speeches in this play. It’s Sebastian’s ‘pinch me now, I must be dreaming’ moment.

And why shouldn’t he think this? Antonio gave him a pouch of money to keep and hasn’t asked for it back and Olivia, a beautiful and wealthy widow, married him within moments of meeting him.

Easiest booty call ever.

What surprises me about this speech is that Sebastian is looking for Antonio so he can get an explanation for what is going. Why not ask Olivia: “Hi. Thank you for your interest in me. I am flattered and looking forward to our nuptial hour. However, could you please explain to me who you think I am so I can do my best to meet your expectations? Thank you.”

I guess he figures that if it is a dream, he’s not about to ruin it by risking an argument with his sugar mommy wife.

In the next two weeks the Bard Brawl is about to start its seventh play. How awesome is that?

Even more awesome: I promise you pirates! (Your experience may vary. Results not typical.)

But first, stay tuned for our next sonnets podcast which will be up shortly.

Sonnet 34 read by first time sonneteer Jay Reid.

Stay in touch, Brawlers!

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