TWELFTH NIGHT, The Theatre Company is an educational arts organization which develops and facilitates creativity through theatre production, artist residency programs, and classes in fine arts. This organization is to serve the Southeast region of the United States and beyond by bringing together an artistic collective to perform study, and teach.
Since 1989 Susan Guthrie has been presenting multi-disciplined art programs based on the creative dramatics teaching methodology in Illinois, Missouri, Kansas, Nebraska, Iowa, Alabama, and New York. Professional productions of new works and classical texts have accompanied residencies in the schools. In 1994 TWELFTH NIGHT, The Theatre Company incorporated as a non profit educational arts organization, presenting Shakespeare in the Classroom along with Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing. Shakespeare in the Classroom, a graduate level methods course for teachers, along with The City Shakespeare Projects, week long, day long residencies for children and youth, ages 8-18, has been offered in communities throughout the Midwest – 1994-2001 with a national outreach 2002 through the present. The third tier of the project is a professional production of a full Shakespeare text. Much Ado About Nothing, Othello, King Lear, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, and Richard II have been presented to critical acclaim.
In the first year of Shakespeare in the Classroom, TWELFTH NIGHT’s production of Much Ado About Nothing offered diverse and non-traditional casting. The female romantic lead, Hero, was played by a deaf actress with the aspect of deaf culture becoming integral to Hero’s family in the play and the hopes of the male romantic lead, Claudio. Hero’s deafness heightened the brutality of the lies told about her and her inability to defend herself, increased the tension, and made sweeter the forgiveness. Outreach to the deaf community, new developments in the translation of poetry to American Sign Language, and new performance forms were some of the hallmarks of this project.
Chicago became the home for TWELFTH NIGHT in 2000, and in 2002 produced Hold Me! by Jules Feiffer at Gallery 37. In 2007 the company took residence in New York, presenting classical works and establishing Shakespeare in the Classroom in schools and universities throughout the state, region, and nation.
Artistic Director, Susan Guthrie, continues to author and present creative based residencies in Shakespeare, acting & voice, classical literature, and creative writing throughout the nation as an Artist in Residence in the Arts in Education Program of the Illinois Arts Council and the Artists in Schools and Communities Program of the Nebraska Arts Council. She is Artist-in-Residence, Snug Harbor Cultural Center in New York, lecturer for the New York State Alliance for Art Education, and a Teaching Artist for Poetry Out Loud, an initiative of the National Endowment for the Arts and The Poetry Foundation.