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2021-2022 Season Program: "Twelfth Night," Spring 2022

The UB Department of Theatre and Dance Presents

Twelfth Night

by William Shakespeare

UB Center for the Arts Black Box Theatre April 21 - 23, 2022 @ 7:30pm

April 23 - 24, 2022 @ 2pm

Directed and Adapted by Danielle Rosvally, Ph.D.

Choreographed by Natasha McCandless

Set & Costume Design: I. M. Fortunato
Lighting Design: Eve Brunswick
Properties Design: Aneesah Karam
Sound Design: Andy Porcelli
Stage Manager: Ryan Wilkie

In Order of Appearance

Orsino Timothy Nuñez
Curio Maddie Podaras
Valentine Katrina Olson
Viola Rachel Koniarczyk
Priest/Captain/Servant Julia Pitarresi
Sir Toby Belch Michael Busacco
Maria Moriah Armstrong
Sir Andrew Aguecheek Alex Novak
Feste Quinn Petkus
Olivia Sydné Jackson
Malvolio Thomas Hughes Bellavigna
Sebastian/Lord Mateo Gonzalez
Antonio/Lord Aaron Alexander
Fabian Paige Kent
Second Officer/Sailor/Gentlewoman Amanda Nirenberg
First Officer/Sailor/Gentlewoman Meg Hunter


Sir Toby Timothy Nuñez
Orsino and Fabian Maddie Podaras
Sir Andrew Aguecheek Katrina Olson
Malvolio Julia Pitarresi
Feste Aaron Alexander
Olivia and Maria Amanda Nirenberg
Viola Meg Hunter

Asistant Director Kaylie Horowitz
Dramaturge Dahlia Frier
Dance Captain Amanda Nirenberg
Head Electrician Olivier Bijoux
Assistant Stage Manager Braxton Stone
Rehearsal Assistant Stage Managers John DellaContrada, Jack Forster, Lyla Giallombardo
Light Board Operator Sophia Fino
Sound Operator Isabella Guerrucci
Deck Electrician Hummyra Rahimi
Deck / Prop Crew Amanda Healey, Gia Maresca, Nina Tucker, Fallon Tuholski
Dresser Supervisor John DellaContrada
Dressers Jen Marquez, MacKenzie Pedersen

Intimacy Director & Vocal Coach Kathleen Golde
Music Coach Alison D’Amato
Fight Director Danielle Rosvally

Gina Boccolucci, Tom Burke, Dyan Burlingame, Judy Curtis, Cindy Darling, Erich Frank, Rick Haug, Jonathan Irizzary, Lynne Koscielniak, Melinda J. Lamoreux, Catherine F. Norgen, Jon Shimon, Tom Tucker



Well, friends, here we are. Welcome back.

It’s been a long time since we’ve sat here like this: together, in a theatre, ready to see a play. Despite this, somehow it doesn’t feel like any time at all has passed. Marking pandemic time has been difficult in many measures – our lives were uprooted in new different ways we could never have imagined two years ago, and continue to be disrupted by the intrusions of an ongoing global pandemic. As much as we’d like to be “back to normal,” we are not the same.

Not really. And there is no going back – the only way out is forward.

But yet – that’s what makes us connect to this particular play, this particular corner of the human experience, even more deeply in this moment. My dramaturge, Dahlia Frier, writes eloquently in her Dramaturge’s Note about how this play interacts with the plague of Shakespeare’s time. Here, I’d like to expand on how we – us – need Twelfth Night right now – and why it was such a compelling choice for our mainstage season this year..

We have experienced unimaginable loss (some of us closer to the heart than others). Like Olivia, we are coming to terms with a world that no longer has some of our loved ones within it. The temptation is deep to, like the Countess, forego interactions with outsiders and turn inward to wander the lonely halls of ourselves. But this is not the end of our uncanny welcome into the next wave of pandemic-era life. Like Viola, we are dealing with living in a familiar/unfamiliar place with new and different rules, people and things we don’t recognize, and a nostalgic longing to return to a home that feels safe and familiar.

So we connect with these heroines. We know how they feel. Like them, we also so deeply need the relief of a comedy – a laugh. In rehearsing this play, myself and the actors often found ourselves engaged in communal laughter and that release was cathartic in a new way. The simple act of making ourselves and each other laugh connected us – helped us bond and form a community – and it comforted us. It helped us to remember that there is something delicious in the act of living, and the divine comedy of the human experience even under the unrelenting pressures of a COVID world.

We’ve put this play together thinking about joy – bright colors, timeless physical comedy, and a design which I was often caught saying should be akin to “a toddler’s birthday party.” We’ve filled the world of Illyria with music you’ll recognize – with tunes you’ve heard before, and that are filled with nostalgic delight. We hope this show sounds familiar to you in some small way even if you’re new to Shakespeare’s language (and if you’re completely new to this play, you might find my assistant director Kaylie Horowitz’s plot summary useful to review before seeing the show).

We have filled every corner of this play with our joy – like messages in bottles plucked from a ship-wrecked sea. I hope this piece affords you a corner of relief. I hope it makes you laugh. I hope it brings you some small slice of happiness. Most of all, I hope it makes you feel connected to us – to our community, to our language, and to the man who first wrote these words so long ago. To me, there is something comforting in old familiar jokes that are still funny. There is something comforting to the fact that humans are still, in some ways, fundamentally the same. That we can still laugh at Sir Toby and Sir Andrews’ drunken antics, that we can still find some humanity in Malvolio’s story, and that we can still enjoy the delight of love found in a seemingly hopeless world.

Dr. Danielle Rosvally, Director.

Head Carpenter Cameron Thompson
Sound Supervisor Lowden Flower
Project Studio Manager Jacob Clouse
Scenic Artist Sophie McGuire
Props Manager Eve Brunswick
Costume Shop Assistant Annie Pascucci
Information Technologist Johnathan Dodds
Media Technology Sean Johnson
Season Graphics Designer Timothy “TJ” Wildow

Ken Smith

Department Chair & Producing Director: Anne Burnidge
Interim Department Chair & Producing Director: Meredith Conti
Production Manager: Michael A. Formato
Assistant to the Chair: Veronica Sedota
Staff Assistant: Rachel Olszewski
Academic Manager: Melissa Berg
Staff Assistant: Rachel Olszewski
Production Assistant: Rob Falgiano
Graduate Student Intern: Sam Schmeer

Meredith Conti, Kathleen Golde, Maria S. Horne, Lindsay Brandon Hunter, Eero Laine, Greg Natale, Vincent M. O’Neill, Danielle Rosvally

Melanie Aceto, Anne Burnidge, Michael Deeb Weaver, Jenna Del Monte Zavrel, Jeanne Palmer Fornarola, Chanon Judson, Ariel Nereson, Thomas Ralabate, Kerry Ring

Executive Director: Jamie Enser
Director of Events: Katherine Trapanovski
Facilities Manager: Vince Harzewski
House Manager: Sara Wild
Director of Photography: Paul Calandra
Production Associate: Sean Krueger
Technical Director: Dave Jordan
Head Electrician: Harry Mandris
Head Electrician: Patty Rihn
Head Carpenter: John Rickus
Audio Video Technician: Josh Piatov
Audio Engineer: Mark Shotwell

It is often said that the plague shaped Shakespeare’s life from the time he was born, when most infants didn’t survive, to the wave that hit London years later killing at least a third of the European population at the time. Theaters (Shakespeare’s main means of income) closed for extended periods of time, and around 300,000 of London’s inhabitants lost their lives around the same time as the writing of Twelfth Night in 1601. The rest of Shakespeare’s life was plagued (quite literally) by the constant return of the bubonic plague, which had been dubbed “The Black Death”, and claimed the lives of thousands each time it passed through London.

Of course, pandemic living had a profound impact on early modern peoples and the art they created as a result. It was recorded that every time plague deaths exceeded 30 per week most places where people gathered (including theaters) were shut down. While this provided Shakespeare with ample time to write some of his most famous works (such as: Twelfth Night, King Lear, Macbeth and Antony and Cleopatra, to name a few), England was essentially stopped in its tracks. People lived in isolation and fear of this sickness that had claimed the lives of so many of their loved ones. Shakespeare himself lost 3 siblings and his own son, Hamnet, to the plague. It’s clear why Shakespeare might have had pandemics on his mind when, during a plague lockdown circa 1601, he wrote the play you are about to see.

Shakespeare filled Twelfth Night with allusions to the lockdown he and his fellow players found themselves living through. Olivia chooses to isolate herself, and references falling in love as though she could “catch the plague.” Both Sir Toby and Sir Andrew, even in the drunken state which they often occupy during the play, use the words “plague” and “pox” to condemn things they dislike. Orsino, in love with love, often uses death imagery to express how consuming love can be. With this in mind, it’s easy to imagine the festivities that ensued in Early Modern London as manifested hopes for a triumphant return to the colorful, joyous world of theatre. While a couple of years ago, this might have been difficult for us as a modern audience to think about or comprehend, the past two years have provided us with a sense of what it feels like to go without live theatre for so long, as well as how difficult it is to live through a plague of our own. These factors combined are what make Twelfth Night the perfect choice for UB in the Spring of 2022.

Twelfth Night is in and of itself a celebration, featuring a story that stands the test of time. Modern scholars consider this play through many lenses including consideration of the plague during which it was written, as well as its proclivity in Queer studies. The characters in this piece are constantly challenging gender norms. Cross-dressing was already a common practice in the early modern theatre as women were not allowed to pursue a career in acting. This means that a character like Viola would be played by a man dressed as a woman who was dressed as a man. This, combined with the fluidity of gender and love, contribute to the modernistic readings of a text from 1601. The cast and crew, armed with this knowledge regarding the celebratory nature of Twelfth Night, have fully embraced the joys of returning to the stage once more and finding a connection between themselves living through the Covid 19 pandemic and the people of England in the 15 and 1600s. And while Twelfth Night has always been a play surrounded by good fortune and positive sentiments, this added knowledge can work in tandem with the plot, allowing this production to echo the experiences of so many theatergoers before us.


Act 1
We find ourselves in fair Illyria, where Duke Orsino pines endlessly for the beautiful Countess Olivia. Less than enthused by his feelings, Olivia can seem to do nothing but grieve for her recently deceased brother and swears that she will accept no visitors for the next seven years to mourn his passing.

Along the coast, Viola of Messaline has just survived a terrible shipwreck and fears that her twin brother Sebastian may be gone forever. For her own sake and safety, she decides it best to disguise herself as a eunuch named Cesario and find work in Duke Orsino’s court. Meanwhile in Olivia’s household, her (consistently) drunken uncle Sir Toby Belch invites noble knight Sir Andrew Aguecheek to stay as a guest in the court. Orsino takes Cesario into his ranks and sends him out as a page with a message of love to Olivia. Cesario arrives at her court, and despite her sharp wit and bossy temper, finds favor with the Countess. She invites Cesario back again, and sends her steward Malvolio after him with a ring that (supposedly) needs to be returned to Orsino.

Act 2
On another side of town, Viola’s “lost” brother Sebastian attempts to say farewell to his companion Antonio, who has nursed him back to health post-shipwreck. As Sebastian has seen no sign of his twin sister since the disaster, he decides to head to the Duke Orsino for aid. Meanwhile, Malvolio delivers the ring to Cesario with explicit instructions not to return, unless to report how Orsino has taken the rejection. Viola, thoroughly distraught and confused, realizes that the Lady is in love with her as much as she is infatuated with Orsino. That evening, Sir Toby, Sir Andrew, and Feste, Olivia’s household fool, get up to rowdy shenanigans, and though Olivia’s handmaid Maria tries to quell the noise it is not enough to keep nosy Malvolio from coming down to scold them all. Having had enough of his pretentious and stiff attitude, Maria decides to craft a plan to trick him into making a fool of himself. At Orsino’s court, Feste comes to serenade the crowd. Orsino asks Cesario to continue the pursuit and return to see Olivia, while “Cesario” grapples with how to deal with her feelings for Orsino. Back with Maria and co., they plant a letter that appears to be written by Olivia for Malvolio to find. Upon its discovery, Malvolio believes it to be a secret love letter from his Lady where she details a set of specific requests in order for him to prove his love. Filled with passion and determination, Malvolio announces his intent to woo Olivia and will dress in (unfashionable) cross-gartered yellow stockings.


Act 3
Feste and Viola run into one another again at Olivia’s house, just in time for Sir Toby and Sir Andrew to barge in with an attempt to intimidate Cesario out of seeing Olivia. The Lady confesses her love to Cesario, but Viola rejects her advances and attempts to leave things with as little emotional pain as possible. Sir Andrew mistakes the rejection for a confession of love, and declares he will leave at once as he believes Olivia will not return his feelings. Sir Toby and Fabian encourage him to stay (largely for their own entertainment) and convince Sir Andrew that a duel is the only way to settle the matter. Meanwhile, as Sebastian and Antonio make their way through Illyria, Antonio confesses some of his criminal past and pleads to lay low at a lodging house while Sebastian explores the sights of the city. Back at Olivia’s court, Malvolio attempts to woo Olivia through the requests made by the love letter. In abject horror, Olivia fears Malvolio has gone mad and bids him to be taken away. Sir Toby and Fabian encounter Cesario and pull him into a duel in which Andrew has (supposedly) challenged him to fight to the death!

In the midst of the quarrel, Antonio mistakes Viola/Cesario for Sebastian and quickly jumps in to save the boy, but gets himself arrested in the crosshairs.

Act 4
Feste and Sir Toby run into Sebastian and almost get into another quarrel with him, believing they’ve found Cesario, but Olivia arrives and stops anyone from getting hurt. She invites Cesario to come with her and, though confused but highly interested, Sebastian obliges. We see the madhouse where Malvolio is being imprisoned, and he pleads for Feste to bring him materials to write a letter explaining himself to Countess Olivia. Through a little bit more fun at Malvolio’s expense, Feste agrees. Olivia, in the meantime, has brought a priest to officiate a wedding between her and Cesario, much to Sebastian’s disbelief, though he heartily agrees and follows suit.

Act 5
Duke Orsino, his Lords, and Viola return to Olivia’s court and are interrupted by the Officers holding Antonio prisoner. Viola confirms that he did save her from Sir Andrew’s attack, but Antonio cannot understand why “Sebastian” does not recognize him after their time together. Countess Olivia arrives, and Orsino threatens to harm Cesario, whom he knows she loves, if she continues with her cruel attitude towards him. As he and his party prepare to leave, Cesario declares that he would rather follow his master than stay with Olivia. Confused why her new husband would betray her this way, Olivia begs Cesario to stay just in time for Sir Andrew to come running in from the front gate. He exclaims that Cesario had gotten into a sword fight with him and Sir Toby. Finally, with Sebastian’s arrival, everyone realizes that there are two Cesarios present. As Viola reveals herself and reunites with Sebastian, and Orsino in-turn proposes to Viola, Feste brings Malvolio’s letter to Olivia and Fabian comes clean about the trick their group played on him. Malvolio is brought forth and, though Olivia reveals that it was not her who penned the letter he received, Fabian also confesses the purposes of the plot to Malvolio (but Sir Toby and Maria quickly got married, so yay?). Scorned and betrayed, Malvolio storms off. For Olivia, Sebastian, Orsino, and Viola though, they look forward to nothing but the happily ever afters they’ve been searching for.

-Kaylie Horowitz, Assistant Director


The UB Department of Theatre and Dance is a proud member of the UB College of Arts and Sciences.

The department of theatre and dance gratefully acknowledges the land upon which the University at Buffalo operates, which is the territory of the Seneca Nation, a member of the Haudenosaunee/Six Nations Confederacy. Today, this region is still the home to the Haudenosaunee people, and we are grateful for the opportunity to live, work, and share ideas in this territory.


UB Theatre and Dance wishes to acknowledge the generous continued philanthropic support of Fox Run at Orchard Park, and Lake Shore Savings Bank, official 2021-2022 season sponsors, especially in light of the challenges facing Buffalo's vibrant community of performing arts organizations.