Twelfth Night

Today’s Church Mice Writers topic was Twelfth Night, which depending on the day you count as the first day of Christmas, falls either on the evening of 5th January or today – the 6th (which is also Epiphany, the day the Three Kings visited Baby Jesus).

Shakespeare’s play Twelfth Night, Or What You Will was written to be performed on Twelfth Night, with the 420th anniversary of its first documented performance coming up on 2nd Feb. In it, one of the main characters – Viola – is washed ashore after a shipwreck and has to dress as a man so she can find work.

In Shakespeare’s time, women weren’t allowed to be actors, so female roles were all performed by men.  Therefore Viola would have been played by a male actor dressed as a woman who was pretending to be a man!

So, we had quite a broad spread of writing prompts to choose from today :–
Shakespeare and his plays,
Twelfth Night,
masks and masquerades (Twelfth Night having traditionally been celebrated with a masquerade ball),
kings and queens of Epiphany (another traditional celebration, to do with finding objects hidden in cake),
and – my personal favourite as a fan of Ru Paul’s Drag Race – drag!

I was given a book of Shakespearean insults as a Christmas present and ended up writing a silly poem about that. See what you think:

Balding Will used his quill to write a lot of insults.
They were so apt a publisher chap put them in a book of sorts. 
We used it to spark off ideas today
to get our writing careers on their way!

Not the sharpish thing I’ve ever written but okay for a quick idea scribbled down in 5 minutes.  Flicking through my old copy of the Complete Works of Shakespeare as we chatted, I found Shakespeare having Harry Hotspur say ‘[nothing] would set my teeth on edge […] as much as mincing poetry!’*  I’m fairly certain my ‘wheel-grating’ effort today would definitely have set young Hotspur’s – and his creator, Shakespeare’s – teeth on edge!

Even so, talking around the topic of Twelfth Night gave us a bit of a chuckle on a very cold, wet Thursday afternoon and everyone wrote wonderfully diverse pieces.  I’ll post them up on our Church Mice blog as the writers send them in to me.

(And here’s a piece by Bernard Levin mentioned by one of the Mice today, about why we’ve got so much to thank Shakespeare for).

How about you – which prompt would you have written about?

*Henry the Fourth Part One (Act 3, Scene 1)

The ‘Shakespeare Insult Generator’ book I was given as a Christmas present.
One of the generated insults, which we used as a writing prompt.

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