Columbia Affiliates Direct and Act in Classical Theatre of Harlem's 'Twelfth Night' at NYU Skirball

Anastasia Ellis
February 17, 2023

Directing alumnus Carl Cofield ’14, Associate Artistic Director of the Classical Theatre of Harlem (CTH), directs CTH’s one-week-only production of Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night. The production, which opened February 11, 2023 at NYU Skirball, runs through February 19 and features three Columbia affiliates in the cast: Acting alumnus Othello Pratt Jr. ’20, and Acting students Adebowale Adebiyi and Mazvita B. Chanakira

Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night follows a case of mistaken identity from which hilarity, love, and—in the case of this production—dance ensue. It tells the story of Viola, played by Tony-nominee Kara Young (The Cost of Living, Associate Professor Lynn Nottage’s Clyde’s), who becomes separated from her twin brother, Sebastian, due to a shipwreck. Thinking Sebastian is dead and determined to make it on her own, Viola disguises herself as a man (Cesario) and goes to work for the Duke Orsino, with whom she quickly falls in love. The Duke, smitten with the Countess Olivia who refuses his advances, sends Viola (as Cesario) to court the countess in his stead. When the countess instead falls for Cesario, a messy love triangle emerges that is only made more complicated (and hilarious) by the return of Sebastian.   

Twelfth Night’s limited engagement marks the show’s return from its award-winning July 2022 run at the Richard Rodgers Amphitheater in Marcus Garvey Park. Winner of two AUDELCO Awards (one for Cofield’s direction), Twelfth Night received universal praise from critics last summer. CTH’s production engages with the global conversation around diversity, equity, and inclusion and notably features a majority-Black artistic team and cast. The show features an Afrofuturistic aesthetic, complete with virtual reality helmets and lightsabers in place of swords. Choreography by Tiffany Rea-Fisher also serves to place it within this Afrofuturistic world. Trimmed down from the original Shakespeare, CTH’s Twelfth Night condenses the comedy into a single act without sacrificing the comedy. 

Tickets for the show’s final weekend of performances can be found here.