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This Greenville Journal article by Paul Hyde was originally published on September 4th, 2023.  Photo:  Will Crooks


The Warehouse Theatre opens its 50th season with one of its specialties: Shakespeare.

“Twelfth Night,” directed by Shakespearean stalwart Jayce Tromsness, runs Sept. 8-24. The theater has long been known for championing the Bard not only at its West End theater but also through its sponsorship of the Upstate Shakespeare Festival.

“Twelfth Night” celebrates the fun and foolishness of people in love. It’s a comedy of disguises, mistaken identities, love triangles and practical jokes.

The play is set into motion by Viola, who disguises herself as a man and gets a job serving Duke Orsino, with whom she falls in love. He, in turn, is in love with Lady Olivia but Olivia soon falls for the disguised Viola.

“It’s my favorite comedy,” said Tromsness, a longtime drama teacher at the South Carolina Governor’s School for the Arts and Humanities. “It’s a melancholy play that has a lot of humor in it. I think the humor in juxtaposition with that melancholy is what makes the play so wonderful.

“It’s such a lyrical play,” Tromsness added, “with some of Shakespeare’s best language, and the characters are right up there in the pinnacle of Shakespeare’s comic figures.”

The play also explores the idea of identity, he said.

“This is a play that has people questioning what they always thought to be true about themselves and the world,” he said.

“Twelfth Night” was one of the first Shakespeare productions staged by The Warehouse Theatre, making it a perfect play to begin the theater’s 50th season, Tromsness said.

Celebrating the magic

Fittingly, Tromsness’ production celebrates the magic of theater. The play is set in a theater between productions, with a mix of props and scenery on stage. The play emerges out of those dramatic trappings.

The production features nine actors, some taking on two or three roles.

“This cast is an embarrassment of riches,” Tromsness said. “I couldn’t ask for more creative people.”

Tromsness, who composed music for songs in this staging, has directed “Twelfth Night” several times, including once as a school touring production for The Warehouse Theatre.

He’s become the Warehouse’s go-to director for Shakespeare. At the theater in the past, he’s staged “Macbeth,” “Hamlet,” “Julius Caesar,” “Romeo and Juliet,” “The Merchant of Venice” and “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.”

Tromsness has served 23 years as a drama instructor at the Governor’s School, teaching Shakespeare, dialects, theater history and other subjects.