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Discussion with Dawn Doherty, director of TWELFTH NIGHT.

TWELFTH NIGHT is quite possibly my favorite comedy of the Bard’s. I used to teach/direct theater at a La Paz Intermediate School. Every year we performed Shakespeare. I was lucky enough to direct TWELFTH NIGHT twice with my students.

This is my first time directing adults in Shakespeare. When producer/founder of OTE, Aurora Culver, began SHAKESPEARE IN THE HILLS, she asked me what we should produce and I said TWELFTH NIGHT. She didn’t feel the community was quite ready for that though. So we began with MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING… a show she’d already directed with her company at another venue. The following year she produced TAMING OF THE SHREW although she’d initially wanted to produce MIDSUMMER.. but there were too many productions of MIDSUMMER in the area that year. Last year OTE produced A MIDSUMMER NIGHT’S DREAM and THE COMPLETE WORKS OF WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE ABRIDGED… our first year in rep.

I begged Aurora to do TWELFTH NIGHT the following year… with myself as director and Aurora playing the lead VIOLA. She’s fantastic with the language and expression. Aurora GETS Viola at a very deep level. I was thrilled when she said yes!

Continuing with producing shows in rep, Josefine Damgaard is directing MACBETH with OTE.

What is your vision for the show?
Well if you can call “setting” vision, than it is Virginia in 1777 – the American Revolutionary War. I feel that the intensity of a war background works well for TWELFTH NIGHT and I’m completely enamored with this time period right now.

I’ve truly enjoyed the television show, “Sleepy Hollow”, which brings Ichabod Crane, a soldier from the Revolutionary War, into the present. His costumes and the flashback’s to his past inspire me.


Then I fell in love with AMC’S TURN. Wow! This is a show based on Alexander Rose’s book WASHINGTON’S SPIES. It’s been on for three seasons now and it is PERFECTION. From dialogue, to sets, to acting, to costumes…. it is breathtaking.


And last, but not least, I’m completely obsessed with the musical HAMILTON. I just returned from a trip to NYC where we were privileged to see the original Broadway cast perform the show. I also spent those days researching historical sites that provide the setting for my production of TWELFTH NIGHT.

What can you tell us about the costumes?
I usually act as costumer for OTE and this year I get to costume my own production. I have a strong philosophy about SITH. Because it is performed outside, it needs to be BIGGER than life. The voices have to project, the physical actions have to be over-exxagerated, and the costumes need to be bright and glorious. I really try to appeal to the kids in the audience when it comes to costumes. For example, I want OLIVIA to look like a princess in her dark rose taffeta dress embellished with gold thread.

Olivia's dress

Aurora and I took a trip to the Paley Center in Hollywood to view the costume display from OUTLANDER. It was wonderful to get up close to the costumes and photograph the details. OUTLANDER is currently about 20+ years previous to my setting, but the styles didn’t change as drastically back then as they do now.

outlander exhibit

What is the mission of SHAKESPEARE IN THE HILLS?
This is our fourth year at the community center. Our goal is to nurture appreciation for Shakespeare in Orange County. We felt that too many of our adult friends don’t care for Shakespeare. Many of them were only exposed to Shakespeare in high school where they were forced to READ Shakespeare…. which is rather funny considering Shakespeare wrote his plays to be performed and seen… not read. The language became a barrier for our friends and still is today. It makes me so sad! IF they attend a Shakespeare production, they get so caught up in trying to understand every word and defining it that they miss out on the performances that could have told the story. I tell them to WATCH. The meaning will come later.


It’s funny because when children watch Shakespeare, they laugh, they understand, they are enthralled. It’s because they haven’t been forced to read it first.

A few years ago, I performed with Shakespeare by the Sea which has been around for quite some time now. What was inspiring was to see adults bringing their children to the performances…. adults who had once attending SBTS when they were kids. Their early exposure to the Bard made him accessible.
THIS is what we want to accomplish with SITH. We hope to entertain our adult friends and inspire our young friends in Orange County.

Parting words?
I strongly encourage you to come out and have some fun with us. The shows are outside. Bring a picnic dinner a blanket or chair and your kids. Kids 12 and under are free. And I challenge you to leave your preconceived ideas of Shakespeare at home and allow yourself and your children to just enjoy the performance.

Who knows? Maybe next year you’ll join us at auditions for our 5th annual SHAKESPEARE IN THE HILLS.

Shakespeare in the Hills 2016

TWELFTH NIGHT directed by Dawn Doherty and MACBETH directed by Josefine Damgaard

Shakespeare’s TWELFTH NIGHT will play July 29, 30, 31, and August 7. In rep will be Shakespeare’s MACBETH performing August 5, 6, 12, and 13.

The shows will start at 7 p.m. The shows will be held on the lawn near the gazebo at the community center. Bring a beach chair, blanket, and a picnic dinner. Tickets are just $10 for adults. Kids 12 and under are free.

The show will be held at the Laguna Hills Community Center on the lawn by the gazebo, 25555 Alicia Pkwy, Laguna Hills, CA 92653.

For both productions being offered at this year’s Shakespeare in the Hills, we are accepting online registration at https://apm.activecommunities.com/lagunahillscs or follow “register a class” links at http://www.ci.laguna-hills.ca.us/ (follow “register a class” links).
On the day of each show, we are accepting cash only at the door (no checks, or debit/credit cards).

For more info: email aurorajculver@gmail.com
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More info on OTE can be found at http://www.otetheatre.com