Shakespeare, it appears used metatheatre in creating these highlighted elements as is evident in his popular play Romeo and Juliet. This study text will evaluate his play Twelfth Night and highlight several instances where metatheatre and artifice suffice in justifying the statement that most of his works were indeed metatheatrical.
In the Twelfth Night, Viola, who is a lady, is disguised as a boy, Cesario. The point of metadrama in the play suffices when Cesario (Viola) is seen saying to Olivia, “I am not that I play” (Shakespeare n.p.). This was after Olivia had prepared the ground for the metatheatrical portrayal when she asks Cesario, “Are you a comedian?” Her utterance has multiple meanings which reveal the metatheatre. First, she is trying to say that in the play where she is playing the role of Cesario, she is not him. Concisely, she is not the young man that she is portrayed as, but is actually a lady, Viola. This revelation simply tells the audience that she is only disguised as Cesario, but in real life, she is not. In this, Viola has stepped out of the play and has come out to the audience. Second, and to the audience who understand that it is Viola, who is acting as Cesario, there is an increased connection with the play. In short, in being able to uncover the disguise, they are bound to enjoy the play more.
Closely related to the revelation seen in Cesario’s “removal” of her disguise is the act of a girl-playing-boy. The mere fact that Cesario, who the audience once viewed as a lady has forced them to realize, or rather, remember that she is female. This is also a form of acknowledging that the play is just that; a play. Better put, the audience might have been deeply engrossed into the Twelfth Night that they forgot that it was all an illusion. The same happens with the actors; they might be so indulged into their acting that they ...
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