Since their founding in 1995, Philly’s own Pig Iron Theatre Company has developed more than 25 productions from scratch. As a rule, they never began with an existing script.
“I started to wonder, ‘At this point, is the next most difficult thing to find a script and stick to it?’” says co-founder Dan Rothenberg. “Like, can we do that without sacrificing all that we hold dear?”
The result was so well received at the 2011 Live Arts Festival that the company is restaging the show at the new FringeArts theater, beginning this week. “Twelfth Night, or What you Will” is Pig Iron’s attempt at honoring Shakespeare’s script — while having as much fun as they possibly can along the way. (Read: Dueling Balkin brass bands follow Sir Toby and Duke Orsino about the stage.)
“Balkan music has a sobbing quality to it, but it can also have a really drunken, raucous quality to it. So, those two extremes became kind of a basis for the production: the melodramatic, over-sad Orsino, as well as Sir Toby’s ‘it doesn’t matter, let’s just have a great time’ attitude,” explains Rothenberg, who also directed the show.
When the show premiered in 2011, this world-famous ultra-experimental company received rave reviews from the most straight-laced corners of the theater community.
And that was all well and good in Rothenberg’s eyes: “The risk we wanted to take with this was: It’s OK if people come and don’t say, ‘Oh, this is an experimental production.’ We just wanted them to say this is a great production of ‘Twelfth Night,’ period.”
‘Twelfth Night, or What You Will’
Pig Iron Theatre Company
140 N. Columbus Ave.