Twelfth Night

Viola is separated from her twin brother Sebastian after their ship wrecks. In Illyria, Viola dresses as a man so that she can get a job working for Lady Olivia. Sebastian decides to get a job in politics. Duke Orsino and Malvolio love Lady Olivia who loves Viola (now Cesario) who loves Duke Orsino. Throw in a clown named Feste, and this gets really confusing–but lots of fun.

Script with madrigal outline: 6 Males and 4 Females, Extras M/F (approximately 20-25 minutes)

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Script as a stand-alone play: 5 Males and 3 Females (approximately 20 minutes)

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FESTE (M/F):  A jester/clown.  Shudder.

VIOLA/CESARIO (F) A woman who disguises herself as a man to get a job. (Really, has anything changed in four centuries?)

KING (M) The lord of the castle. 

QUEEN (F) The lady of the castle.

DUKE ORSINO (M) Heartbroken over his inability to get anywhere with Olivia and is very uncomfortable with androgyny.

OLIVIA (F) Mourning her lost brother.  He went over to Scientology.

SEBASTIAN (M):  Viola’s brother and purveyor of chicken fingers.

MALVOLIO (M):  Servant who thinks he’s all that.

SIR TOBY BELCH (M):  Eats too much, drinks too much, and has acid reflux.

MARIA (F):  Sharp as a nail.  A rusty, lockjaw-inducing nail.

EXTRAS (M/F): Courtiers to fill out the Royal Table, Servants, Guards, etc.


(BRASS FANFARE signals entertainers to exit the hall. Lights up on main stage and Royal Table as FESTE enters and begins blowing up a balloon.  VIOLA dramatically staggers onto the stage.)

VIOLA:  (Speaks without looking at FESTE.) Oh the horror!

FESTE:  What is it?  What happened?

VIOLA:  A ship’s mutiny! I barely escaped with my life! I’ve never seen such monstrous inhumanity!  (She looks at FESTE and steps back in fear.)  Until now.

FESTE:  (Releases balloon.)  Listen, sister –

VIOLA:  What happened to you?  Why are you so hideously disfigured?  Opera accident?

FESTE:  This is makeup.  I’m a clown.

VIOLA:  A . . . clown?

FESTE:  Yes, a clown.  (VIOLA starts backing away.)  Where are you going?

VIOLA:  Back to the ship.  I’m sure the mutiny is over.  And they’ve put out the fires.  And pulled the iceberg out of the hull.

FESTE:  (Crosses in front of VIOLA, blocking her way.)  You can’t leave.

VIOLA:  (Stares at FESTE and backs the other way while he follows.)  Why not?

FESTE:  Right now you are my entire audience.  You have to see the show.

VIOLA:  I think I’ve heard about your show.  Usually it’s in a storm drain, isn’t it?

FESTE:  Hey, that’s where the King put me.  I didn’t have a choice.  I only made pennies a day.

VIOLA:  That makes you Pennywise.  (She tries to run but FESTE grabs her by the sleeve.)  Let me go!  Let me go!

FESTE:  I will make you a balloon animal if you stay.

VIOLA: Let me—a balloon animal?

FESTE:  Yes.  Anything you want.  (Starts blowing up a balloon.)

VIOLA:  A puppy?

FESTE:  You’ve got it.  (Twists and contorts balloon. Then hands it to VIOLA.)

VIOLA:  (Looks at it dubiously.)  This is a puppy?

FESTE:  Part of a puppy.  (Look from VIOLA.) The lower digestive tract. (Smiles weakly.)  So . . .

VIOLA:  Viola.

FESTE:  Viola? Oh.  Didn’t have the chops to be named Violin? (Laughs overly.)

VIOLA:  Don’t go there.

FESTE:  Right.  My name is Feste.

VIOLA:  And you’re making fun of my name?

FESTE:  Don’t go there.  (Beat.)  So, what caused the mutiny on your ship?

VIOLA:  They ran out of chicken fingers in the buffet line. (FESTE stares.) The crowd got pretty ugly. (FESTE stares.) It was a cruise ship. (Beat.) Anyway, I’m at loose ends and looking for work.  Need an assistant for your . . . clown work?

FESTE:  Any experience with cream pies?


FESTE:  Seltzer bottles?


FESTE:  Slasher films?


FESTE:  Then I don’t need you.  You could try my employer, Lady Olivia –

VIOLA:  Great, I’ll do that.

FESTE:  Except that she has secluded herself.  She is mourning the loss of her brother.

VIOLA:  Oh.  Sickness?  Murder?

FESTE:  Scientology.

VIOLA:  And I thought I had trouble with a Cruise.

FESTE:  Hey.  Leave the punning to the professionals.

VIOLA: Sorry.

FESTE: Oh, you could also work for Lord Orsino –

VIOLA:  I’ll do that, then.

FESTE:  But he is hiring only men.  He was jilted by Lady Olivia and turned his entire castle into the He-Man Woman-Haters Club.  No women allowed.

VIOLA:  I’ll just apply as a man.

FESTE:  You can’t.

VIOLA:  Why?

FESTE:  That’s exactly the chromosome you’re missing.

VIOLA:  I’ll just dress like a man.

FESTE:  I don’t think so.  You’re pretty girlie. (VIOLA s­­­tarts to take off dress.) Hold it right there, sister.  This is Illyria, not France.  We‘ve got laws about . . . (VIOLA is out of dress wearing leggings and tunic that were underneath.)  Oh.  Excuse me, sir.  We haven’t met.  I’m Feste.

VIOLA:  Feste, it’s me.  Viola.

FESTE:  Wow.  Pants really do make the man.  This could work.  Come on; I’ll introduce you to Lord Orsino.

MALVOLIO: (Enters and speaks to audience.) Welcome, most honored guests.

VIOLA: Who’s that?

FESTE: No one of any concern.

MALVOLIO: The King shall be arriving at any moment. (Points out a table of guests.) Excuse me, but didn’t I just tell you that the King is arriving any moment? What are you grumbling about over there?

VIOLA:  (Looks closer at the table.) You must excuse them.  They appear to be poor, bedraggled refugees like myself.

MALVOLIO:  Refugees from where?

FESTE: I’d guess _____ .  (Put name of your own rival city or school here.)

MALVOLIO: (Looks closer.) They do look rather downtrodden.

VIOLA:  No, they are refugees from a cruise ship.  Didn’t you notice the scent of coconut oil?

MALVOLIO:  Ah, and I see that they have several ill-considered tattoos.

FESTE:  Alas, the combination of poor judgement and duty-free alcohol.

MALVOLIO:  What are they doing at the King’s feast?

VIOLA:  Their cruise ship hit an iceberg.

MALVOLIO:  So they abandoned ship?

VIOLA:  No, they just used the ice for their Pina Coladas.  Then the rum barrels exploded.

MALVOLIO:  Then they abandoned ship.

VIOLA:  No, they just used the burning rum for cherries flambé.  Then they, they –


VIOLA:  I cannot speak of it.  It is too horrible.  Oh, the humanity!


VIOLA:  The cruise ship ran out of . . . chicken fingers!


VIOLA:  That is what they were grumbling about.

MALVOLIO:  That is easily solved.  Feste!

FESTE:  Yes?

MALVOLIO:  Give these guests your chicken.

FESTE:  Foghorn Leghorn II?

MALVOLIO:  Yes, him.  (FESTE crosses to table and pulls a rubber chicken from his bag. To table.) You’ll just have to take off the chicken’s fingers yourself.

FESTE:  (Takes chicken back and talks to MALVOLIO.)  You barbarian!  Would you so ruthlessly have them end Foghorn’s piano career?  (To table.) Here, take this gold instead.  It belongs to Foghorn. (Hands them several gold-painted rocks.)

VIOLA:  Well, if you can’t have chicken fingers, you’ll just have to settle for chicken nuggets.

MALVOLIO: As long as it stops the grumbling. (BRASS FANFARE. VIOLA & FESTE exit.) Ah, the King has arrived. His majesty is punctual, if nothing else. (To table.) Mind that you are on your best behavior. (Beat.) And sit up straight!
(Clears his throat and calls loudly, to the back of the hall.)
Ready the meal and heat the wassail!
Bring forth the meat and finest of ale!
Blow the clarion!  Singers appear!
The King and his court are drawing near! (Exits.)