Thursday, March 10, 2005

Initial thoughts on Olivia

"I do seem to detect in Edwardian Society... a certain strain of melancholy, common enough among over-exerted lovers of pleasure. Oh yes, it's a wonderful party - but the band sounds tired, the women and champagne are losing their sparkle, the latest cigar smokes badly, boredom and satiety are creeping in, and the night is waiting outside to put its dark old questions." ("The Edwardians" - J.B. Priestley)

Olivia has been caught up in this "wonderful party" from the moment she was born. Treated as a rare jewel by her devoted father, as a young girl she was the centre of attention at his grand weekend parties, cooed over and admired by a succession of notables. Aged 18, she came out as a debutante and was presented to the King in London, who (gossip says) was much taken with her. She was taken round Europe on the Grand Tour, to expand her mind, and she attended the season in London - going to receptions, dinners, dances and the theatre, and breaking the hearts of a number of eligible bachelors whose advances she rejected. She would only rarely return to Illyria, which increasingly appeared to her as a sleepy backwater in comparison with her gay life in London.

The deaths of her father and brother bring her back to Illyria. Distraught, bereft, she suddenly finds herself as mistress of the house, and it is the weight of that responsibility - as well as her genuine grief - that makes her take her vow to "abjure the sight and company of men". Grief in Edwardian times was marked with very strict rituals - one mourned for a parent for 12 months, plain black being worn all the time; for a brother, the mourning period was 6 months, with "half mourning" (dull greys or mauves) being worn in the last month. But it was also common for people to take their mourning to extremes - the prime example being the late Queen Victoria, who wore black for her beloved Albert for the rest of her life. This was seen as the romantic thing to do - and Olivia, being the sort of girl who reads too many romantic novels, is motivated by this sense of the grand gesture in the face of tragedy, and vows to mourn for seven years. She wants to honour her dead father and brother by excessive and ostentatious mourning.

But is that the only reason for Olivia abjuring "the sight and company of men"? Could it be also a symptom of an underlying discontent with her position as a woman within a male-dominated society?

"Eventually wearied and discontented in luxury, the Edwardian society hostess was tired of expending so much energy on useless activities and rituals of dress and etiquette. She longed for freedom from the repression of a male orientated society where life was geared to satiate male needs." (

If this is so, perhaps this sheds some light on why Olivia is so instantly attracted to Cesario - for he represents a new kind of "man", one who is not the military, huntin' fishin' shootin' chap of her previous experience. Perhaps it is Cesario's very femininity with which Olivia falls in love?

Tuesday, March 08, 2005


I find everyone including feste uses and takes advantage of Andrew to their own end. Seeing him as a free meal ticket. Now i believe sir Andrew knows that,and this is not something new to him, all his life, his friends have always beenthe people he has bought things for. Something dosent feel right with sir andrewabout it, but thats all he's ever known. Its a sad case, Andrew never knowing real true friendship, or unconditional love, all he's ever known is that money can buy you anything, even friendship and love. But its the quality of friendship that suffers.


Monday, March 07, 2005

Group Meeting/Rehearsal

I am arranging a day on the 2nd April where we can all get together, go through the script, sign costumes, get measured for costumes, meet crew etc. It is really important for you to come and attend this day in Egham as it will be our only chance before rehearsals begin.

I have greatly enjoyed meeting you all over the past few weeks and am delighted with the level of engagemnet you have all showed despite having very busy schedules. The production is shaping up very well-both ceatively and in terms of design and planning the finer details (accomodation/travel etc).

When the contact list arrives please feel free to meet up and discuss, go through the text/characters with other cast members. Many of you live in North London and thus this ought not be too difficult, the more work we put into the project now, the better it will be. I implore upon you the importanc of blogging your research and development through the process. It is such a valuable tool at our disposal and it would be a shame to waste it.

Please repsond to this message by hopefully confirming the 2nd, if this is truly impossible then please let me know also, as I understand it is relatively short notice. But getting to know each other before being thrust together for a hectic summer is vital.

(Laurence could you ring me asap please)

Saturday, March 05, 2005

Contact List

Hey, hope that everyone is doing fine.
I'm currently trying to sort out the contact list which will be sent out very shortly, however there are just one or two items that are missing which if you could email me with asap i would be really grateful for.
Angelo, I'm missing your telephone number, and Alastair doesn't appear to have it either
Paula I'm missing your email address
That's all, if I don't get these soon don't worry I'll email a copy around anyway and then just phone or email these two and send you an amended copy a little later.
If anyone has any questons that they wish to ask as regards the set, the tour, or anything else you think that I may be usefull for do not hesitate to do so. Or if I have got any of your information wrong - or if you do not recieve the information any time soon (in which case i have probably gotten your email wrong) then once again send me an email, and i will amend it asap.
Russell Clark