Merely Players to deck out Shakespeare in hipster drag
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Viola (Sam Green) plays her brother (Connor Downs) in "Twelfth Night."
Photo by Chip Chandler

By Chip Chandler — Digital Content Producer

One of the Bard's more sophisticated comedies will get modern-day boho trappings in a new staging from acting troupe Merely Players.

The company will stage Twelfth Night at 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday and June 23 and 24 in the Amarillo College Experimental Theatre on the Washington Street campus. Tickets are $10 for adults and $8 for seniors and students. Call 806-371-5359.

"In the end, all they want is for the world to be a better place," said director Stacy Clopton Yates. "It's one of my favorite of his plays and, of course, of all the comedies."

In the play, twins Viola and Sebastian (Sam Green and Connor Downs) are separated when their ship crashes on the shores of Illyria. Viola, believing her brother to be dead, disguises herself as a man named Cesario to travel more securely through the country.

She falls in love with Duke Orsino (Brandon Graves), who is in love with Countess Olivia (Jacqueline Llewellyn) who, in turn, finds herself falling in love with Cesario.

Meanwhile, a band of servants (played by Robin Downs, Dean Yates, L'Hannah Pedigo and Alastair Sigala Ramirez) work with Olivia's uncle, Sir Toby Belch (Robert Hansen), to convince the vainglorious Malvolio (Monty Downs) that Olivia is, in fact, in love with him. 

And on top of all that, Sebastian encounters Olivia, who assumes he is Cesario, and convinces him to marry her.

Yes, it's complicated, but "it's funny and lighthearted, and it's very romantic," Clopton Yates said. 

The summertime production is traditional for Merely Players, which has a core membership of longtime Amarillo actors who bring in friends and others (in this case, Amarillo College students and others) to stage a few plays per year.

In this case, Pedigo, an AC graduate, designed the set, placing the action in a downtown plaza in a hipster neighborhood in a large city. The characters wear lots of knit hats and plaid. And Yates, in another modern touch, will project, on a building wall above the actors' heads, text messages ostensibly sent to Malvolio by Olivia (instead of the traditional forged love letter).

A summer staging necessitates what Green called "a very fast rehearsal," but she said she's glad to be able to squeeze it in.

"It's hard to balance a full-time job (with doing theater), but it's fun to be able to do what I love because it's not what I do every single day," she said. "And I get to be around people I love so much."





Chip Chandler is a digital content producer for Panhandle PBS. He can be contacted at, at @chipchandler1 on Twitter and on Facebook.