The second half of Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night intensifies the bizarre love triangle. Orsino, a nobleman in Illyria, pines for Olivia, a wealthy, noble lady. She does not return his love, rather, she has fallen for Viola, who disguises herself as a young man, Cesario. To construct a proper triangle, another seemingly impossible pair is left, Viola loves Duke Orsino, but is unable to express this as his right hand man, Cesario. It is obvious that I could not connect this love triangle to Acts4Youth, it would be quite a stretch, at least. I decided to look past the main characters, to the smaller characters who still play a role.
The fool is present in both Olivia’s and Orsino’s home. He makes jokes, sings songs, and is very witty. He seems to be the wisest character in the play, despite the fact that he is a professional clown. Masked under all foolishness, the fool offers good advice to a number of characters in the play. There are a select few in the 8TH grade class at A4Y, that have a special resemblance with the fool. They sit around, making quick jokes, lightly picking on other students. In seconds, the whole class is laughing (even me sometimes). They come off as tough kids who aren’t affected by criticism, but mostly they just cover that side with jokes.
There is one boy, Marquise, who especially comes to mind. He is Shakespeare’s modern fool in Acts4Youth. What I find most interesting is that, just like the fool, Marquise is one of the smartest in the class. He jokes around but is able to control himself when it comes down to getting work done. The other kids seem to get carried away and it is difficult for them to differentiate between work and play. The boys in the 8th grade class can all relate to character in the play. The kids who only think about girls, the ones who just appear not with it, the jokesters, the kids who try too hard, and the kids who don’t try enough.
I’ve been with the kids in Acts4Youth for almost a semester now. I’ve observed, I’ve gotten involved, and I’ve built relationships with many of them. I feel as though people think some of these kids are “bad apples” and aren’t going anywhere in life, but they could not be more wrong. In act 5, Antonio makes a good point when Orsino is accusing him of being a thief. He explains to Orsino that he was never a thief although he confesses that he was “on base and ground enough, Orsino’s enemy.” In fact, Antonio was the one who saved Sebastian from drowning, a very noble act. He is just rude to Orsino because he has reason to be. When the boys at school are falsely accused of doing something, I think this either tempts them to do worse, or they feel discouraged. Acts4Youth reminds them of their fullest potential. One person may not have the best opinion of them, but it is up to them to prove the “haters” wrong, and give their best in all they do. I am truly honored to have been even a small part of their journey and really do hope they realize they can do great things if they put their mind to it. I saw so much potential and character in each boy and I can’t wait for the rest of their journey.