Director Q & A: Patrick Midgley

 

Director Patrick Midgley

 

Tell us a little about yourself.

My name is Patrick Midgley and I’m directing Hoosier Shakespeare’s production of TWELFTH NIGHT, or WHAT YOU WILL this summer.

For the past five years, I worked as an actor and educator at The American Shakespeare Center, where I played more than 75 roles in more than 40 productions, all performed in rep. I also completed two national tours. My paper on textual analysis, entitled “Echoes and Entreaties,” was delivered at the 2015 Blackfriars Conference.

Prior to that, I worked with The New York Shakespeare Exchange, The Michigan Shakespeare Festival, and The Ohio Shakespeare Festival.

I earned my MFA in Acting at Purdue University. I have a BA in History and Theatre from The College of Wooster, and this fall I’ll begin working toward my Ph.D. in Theatre from Texas Tech University.

What’s your experience with TWELFTH NIGHT?

It was the first Shakespeare play I read, in the summer between ninth and tenth grades. I was attending a summer academic program at UC Berkeley.

In graduate school, I played Sebastian in a workshop production. In 2012-13, I toured the country playing Antonio with The American Shakespeare Center.

It will be the first play I’ve ever directed–that’s right, this marks my directorial debut, and I couldn’t be more excited!

What’s up with the title?

Let’s take that one part at a time.

The first part of the title, TWELFTH NIGHT, refers to the Feast of the Epiphany. According to Christian tradition, the Epiphany is when the Three Magi presented gifts to the newborn Jesus. The traditional date for this holiday is January 6th: the “twelfth day of Christmas,” as the song goes.

In Shakespeare’s time, Twelfth Night marked the boundary of the Christmas season. Simply put: cut loose and party down.

At Twelfth Night parties, a “Lord of Misrule” would facilitate masquerades and dances. Men could dress as women and vice-versa. Servants could dress as masters and vice-versa.  This  was a chance to live an alternate life: to be whomever you pleased.

The second part of the title is a little trickier.

You can see “What You Will” as, well…as you like it. Perhaps it is intended to be linked to the idea of Twelfth Night: a wink at this very secular fashion for celebrating a religious holiday. Perhaps it is intended as an implication: in the moments of fantasy Twelfth Night provide, we are in fact living the life we most desire. Perhaps it is intended to dismiss the idea of Twelfth Night entirely: what you will, you know, whatever.

I don’t know for sure, but I like to think it is intended to raise our hopes just as Malvolio’s are when he stumbles across a letter addressed “to the unknown beloved.”

Patrick Midgley at Hotspur in HENRY IV, Part 1 (Photo by Lindsey Walters for The American Shakespeare Center)
Patrick Midgley at Hotspur in HENRY IV, Part 1 (Photo by Lindsey Walters for The American Shakespeare Center)

Who is your favorite character?

This is entirely impossible to answer and I refuse to do it!

But I will tell you a little bit about a few of my favorites.

There’s Sir Andrew: a guy who has never once thought about money because he hasn’t had to. A guy who is chivalric. Noble-hearted. Gentle. Sweet. Anxious.  He is child-like, naive, innocent, and (I’ll use this word again) SWEET.

Sweet Sir Andrew.

There’s Feste. He seems, as Dr. Ralph Alan Cohen of the ASC once wrote, “an escapee from the world of HAMLET.” He is mysterious, alluring, and equal parts sentimental and cynical. He possesses a talent that is undeniable and take-your-breath-away-ingly beautiful. And we can glimpse the clown backstage with his guard down, into his inner life: his loves, his not-quite-dead-yet hopes, and his shortcomings.

There’s Sir Toby. Irresistible, irresponsible, and irrepressible. Debonnaire. Lecherously charming. And yet, dwelling just beneath that confident, riotous persona, we sense (and soon see) a deep sadness and a profound loneliness.

Then, Olivia. Oh, Olivia. Perhaps Shakespeare’s most dignified character. Even productions that deliberately attempt to undermine her gravitas have been unable to make her anything less than a joy. She is both wise and child-like (but what child isn’t wise?). We see her in the depths of mourning and in the heights of new love.

And that’s just a taste. I hope you will come and fall in love with all of them.

What scene will be the most fun to direct?

Well, all of them, really. But Act One, Scene 5 certainly comes to mind, when Olivia  first meets Cesario.

What scene will be the hardest to direct?

The hardest? That’s easy. The 430-line Act 5. Anyone who has ever been in a Shakespeare play will agree with me there.

What is your concept for this production?

Alas, a concept. I confess I don’t have one. We’re not setting it in the Wild West or Outer Space. I’m not changing the order or scenes or adding elaborate backstories. You’ll see the play that Shakespeare wrote, spoken clearly with passion and with love. You’ll see it in all of its romance, its delicacy, its joyfulness, its cruelty, and its mystery.

This is the maiden voyage for Hoosier Shakespeare and I can’t think of a better play to begin with, or better actors with whom to take on the challenge.

I hope you’ll join us.

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Twelfth Night and Pericles will be performed in repertory at Charley Creek Gardens in Wabash, IN, June 8-12 and the 3rd Street Courtyard in Marion, IN, June 15-19 and 22-26. Pre show entertainment will commence at 7:00 PM. shows will begin at 7:30 PM. Approximately run-time for each show is 2 hours and 15 minutes. Bring lawn chairs or blankets for seating.

Performances are offered on a Pay-What-You-Will basis. If you like what you see, make a donation to Hoosier Shakes, Inc. during intermission or after the show. Donations may be made online through the Hoosier Shakes account on Paypal: Login to Paypal.com and send money to “info@hoosiershakes.com”.

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