I've spent the morning prepping, making out a worksheet for the Shakespeare camp. I get the students for an hour and a half, after lunch, so I need to get them thinking and moving and active, or it'll be nap time.
We're going to work through (in groups) the introductory stuff of Twelfth Night, 1.1, 1.2, 1.3, 1.5, and 2.1, each of the scenes that introduces (mostly) new characters. (We're skipping 1.4, where Cesario is in Orsino's court, and only doing 1-80 of 1.5 to start).
As I'm prepping, and thinking about staging stuff and all, I think about how else the play could work, and it makes me realize how stunningly tight and smart the opening sequence is.
We set up the problem, because we need to see Orsino first, before we learn that Viola's going to go there because she can't go to Olivia's, or that Sebastian will go there, or that Antonio can't go there. We also need to learn about Olivia's dead brother issue, and Orsino's goofy being in love with love thing.
Then we get Viola, and set her up to go hang out with Orsino in disguise.
So that plot set up is all in place, and we move to the subplot with Sir Toby, Maria, and Sir Andrew, and set them up as a problem in themselves, or several problems: Sir Toby and the household is out of control, and Olivia's being courted by an idiot, sponsored by her uncle, and so sort of in danger of being pressured to marry this idiot.
We make a quick turn, and oh, there's Viola as Cesario, new BBF of Orsino, being sent off to woo. (And yes, imagine how impossible this play would be with text messaging!)
Now it's time to meet Olivia, and we learn that she's smart and witty, and wise enough to allow Feste to speak openly; but we also learn that Feste's been out of the house, and that helps us know that the household isn't under good control (and in a heirarchical world, good control is important). And with that, we start the wooing sequence, and see the matching of wits that is Cesario and Olivia, both smart women. (And like all sit-coms, if just they'd talk to each other for real, the play would be very short and boring indeed!)
Quick cut away to Sebastian and Antonio, resisting the "twin shows up like deus ex machina at the end," and giving just enough time for the Malvolio chase with the ring to make sense. We set up the naughty pirate (because what's a play without a pirate!!), as a bonus.
So in a few short minutes, we learn an awful lot about the whole bunch of folks we'll care about, and get a good sense of their relationships; we know the gender confusion plot that's coming, and we're ready to enjoy the fun, AND we've already had some silly dancing. What could be better?