LIHUE — Gabri LaFratta didn’t have trouble memorizing lines for “Twelfth Night.”
“I would write the lines down, and read them out once,” said the junior at Island School.
LaFratta, who is playing Twelfth Night’s female lead, Viola, is one of 14 drama students taking on William Shakespeare’s comedy.
The students have been working on the play since December, she said.
“I’ve had practice every day after school for two hours,” she said.
Each year, the high school drama class performs a play, but this is the first time in several years they have tackled Shakespeare, said Peggy Ellenburg, theatre teacher at Island School.
“In September, I took an acting workshop about Shakespeare in Oahu, and it got me all excited about doing Shakespeare,” she said. “So I decided this was it.”
“Twelfth Night,” which is thought to be written around 1600, tells the story of a twin brother and sister who are washed up on the shore of Illyria by a storm, each feared to be dead by the other.
As the play progresses, Viola, disguised as a man, finds a job in the court of Orsino, the Duke of Illyria. Her brother, Sebastian, is continuously mistaken for his sister.
Because the play can be two and a half hours long, the play Island School will be performing is a shorter version, edited by Cass Foster, a local actor and former drama professor.
“It’s not easy to cut the story down and to leave it intact,” Ellenburg said.
Foster’s version is part of a 60-minute Shakespeare series he published, she added.
The other cast members include Max Movaghar as Duke Orsino, Emily Threlkeld as Olivia, Zeb Wichert as Malvolio, Rebecca Stevens as Sir Toby Belch, Alaya Mallas as Sir Andrew Aguecheek, Tabitha Ross as Maria, Lia Yamasato as Feste the Clown, Luke Sullivan as Fabian, Amanda Nguyen as Sebastian, Julia Randolph-Flagg as Antonio, Carolyn Price as Curio and Officer 1 and Sterling Bird as Valentine and Officer 2.
Physics teacher, Jeff Kozak, plays the part of the Sea Captain.
Before her junior year, LaFratta said she didn’t have an interest in drama. Thursday will be the first she’s been in a play.
“I’m someone who doesn’t like talking in front of people, but I got talked into it,” she said. “Now it’s something I enjoy doing.”
Island School students and other volunteers have built sets to transform the stage into the Globe Theatre, and Elizabethan era costumes were contributed by parents, Ellenburg said.
The play premieres at 5 p.m. Thursday. It continues Friday and Saturday, and curtain call is 7 p.m. Tickets are $6 in advance and $8 at the door.
“As we’ve gotten better, the scenes have gotten really funny, and it’s fun to watch it come together,” LaFratta said.