Q&A: Theatre company performs Shakespeare’s ‘Twelfth Night’ to benefit Freedom to Marry

The theater has often been a venue where artists have come together to explore themes of social justice, equality, and the importance of acceptance. And this summer, Ripple Effect Artists, a NYC-based production company, is infusing some of those themes into their production of the William Shakespeare classic Twelfth Night.

The production company's version of the play, which opens on June 20, 2013 at the Access Theater in New York City, will, in part, benefit Freedom to Marry. Buy tickets to the performance HERE. Ripple Effect Artists explains:

A Shipwreck. A Duke suffering with unrequited love. Debauchery. Melancholy. Twins getting confused. Strangers falling in love. Mischievous Pranks. And the wisest one is always the fool.... Is there a better way to spend a summer's eve? Come and join Ripple Effect Artists in our fun, intimate production of William Shakespeare's "Twelfth Night". Characters from the Romantic Era of the 80s will laugh, play, explore, and fall in love along with you.   

Here, we spoke with Founding Director of Ripple Effect Artists, Jessie Fahay, about Twelfth Night, social justice, and why marriage matters.

AP: How have themes of social justice or human rights influenced your production of Twelfth Night?

JF: The theme that is most prominent in our production is that it's not "ok" or "accepted" to be in love when the love interest is of the same sex. This is so ingrained in the lead character that he is in complete denial, creating an obsession with a woman whom he barely knows.

2. How have previous Ripple Effect productions demonstrated your company's commitment to these values?

Ripple Effect is out to create a compassionate, connected, and communicative community and world. We act locally while we think globally. We all believe that when more individuals have access to basic human rights, we will live in a nation with more compassion and joy. Gay couples have been denied their basic human rights for too long.

3. Can you elaborate on some of the previous organizations you have donated to?

We have donated to feminist organization Paradigm Shift, The Trevor Project, and the League of Women Voters. A lot of factors go into choosing the organizations with whom we partner; we make sure that they are organizations that are out for the greater good of a human rights issue - rather than out to change or persuade.

4. How can theatre and art move audience members to take action or inspire them to care more about certain causes or issues?

I started this organization because I have witnessed evidence of theatre making a profound difference with an audience - as long as it is not used to persuade or convince, but rather be a mirror to truth. As artists, we tell the truth through stories. Often, individuals need to be shown the truth in a visceral way in order to be inspired enough to take action. Merely giving statistics and facts is not enough. A truth that can shock people to their core can lead them from apathy to action. From our audiences, we may have someone who starts a gay-straight alliance in their school, someone who votes for marriage rights, or someone who simply begins accepting a gay family member that they did not accept before. Whatever the result may be, we hope to cause a "ripple effect."

5. Why does the freedom to marry matter to Ripple Effect Artists?

Gay couples have been denied their basic human rights for too long. I believe that if one is lucky enough to find love, they should be given the right to celebrate and honor it. I look forward to a day when same-sex couples can go through the adoption and marriage process with ease - all things that many straight couples may take for granted.

Don't miss Ripple Effect Artists Presents Twelfth Night! Buy tickets today!