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UNF Presents 'Twelfth Night' At Shakespeare In The Park

  Shakespeare in the Park returns to the First Coast this weekend, with open-air performances in Atlantic Beach. And later this month, high-school students will get the chance to appear alongside the University of North Florida performers.

The director says the comedy “Twelfth Night” resonates with today’s young people.

Friday and Saturday night, the UNF production appears in Atlantic Beach’s Johansen Park. Drama professor and director Pam Monteleone says Shakespeare’s “Twelfth Night” may be 400 years old, but her students have found modern-day relevance in its themes.

“So there’s excess in music, excess in loving, excess in longing, in desiring, in craving, in drinking, in partying and a lot of excess emotional energy,” Monteleone said.

Next, the show moves to Riverside’s Church of the Good Shepherd for two more performances on April 17 and 18. And what Monteleone’s most excited about? For the first time, her production will have daytime performances at two high schools. She says, students tend to think Shakespeare is over their heads, but that’s because they’re reading what’s meant to be performed.

Monteleone said, “We thought getting students involved in seeing the play would get them to look at Shakespeare in a different way.”

Not only that, but two walk-on roles will be assigned to the high school students at each performance. Those shows are April 23 and 24 at Ribault and First Coast High.

Atlantic Beach performances of Twelfth Night are free and open to the public. A food truck will start serving dinner at 6, and the show starts at 8.

Jessica Palombo supervises local news gathering and production, podcasts and web editorial content for WJCT News, ADAPT and Jacksonville Today. She is an award-winning writer and journalist with bylines including NPR, Experience Magazine, and The Gainesville Sun. She has a master’s degree in broadcast and digital journalism from Syracuse University and is an alumna of the University of Florida. A nearly lifelong resident of Jacksonville, she considers herself lucky to be raising her own children in her hometown. Follow Jessica Palombo on Twitter: @JaxJessicaP