Much to the joy of literary lovers, it's become a trend for modern adaptations of plays and novels to become web series. Such is the case for Jules Pigott and her take on Shakespeare's play Twelfth Night.
netTVnow: Where did the idea for Twelfth Grade (or whatever) come from?
Jules Pigott: I'd done my first Shakespeare web series, Like, As It Is, based on the original play As You Like It, in the fall of 2015. Looking back on it, I realized I could have improved my work. I also really just wanted to do another web series. I've read a bunch of Shakespearean comedies and realized that no one had tried to tackle Twelfth Night yet, so I chose that one!
netTVnow: Describe the characters and how you changed their original descriptions to make these characters your own.
JP: Viola/Sam is our Viola/Cesario and she decided to enroll in an all-boys' boarding school pretending to be a cisgender guy after the school turns down her transgender brother, in an effort to show the staff that the gender of their students does not matter.
Unfortunately, in her time at the school, she develops a crush on her roommate, Oren. Orsino in the Shakespeare play is now Oren Douglas, and he's a much more toned down version of the original character. In part, that's the actor's portrayal, but I also wanted to make Oren feel like a realistic teenage boy who people could sympathize with. He's still got all the eccentricity of Orsino, but ultimately he's an incredibly trusting and loyal high school boy.
Our Lady Olivia and Sir Toby Belch have become Liv and Tammi Belcki, with Liv having extreme social anxiety and agoraphobia as her reasons for staying secluded in her home, and Tammi trying to get her out of her shell. Those are really the main characters, but we also have an incredibly talented supporting cast.
netTVnow: I love that you kept Sebastian and Viola in a very distant relationship.
JP: In the original play both siblings think the other is dead, so it seemed only natural that Sebastian would be across the country, amidst having trouble communicating.
netTVnow: You created your own production company, Quip Modest, along with a few other people. What compelled you to do that and do you have plans to produce other literary web series?
JP: I wanted to have some sort of name behind the show Like, As It Is when it first came out, so Quip Modest was basically a stand in name, stemming from a quote from the original play. It eventually just became what we released our shows under. I have a few other literary web series ideas in my brain, but the next thing I'm working on is not literary inspired.
netTVnow: Are you still in the writing process of the series? If so, how many episodes do you anticipate filming for the season?
JP: The writing process is over, but we're still in production. There will be about 55 episodes total.
netTVnow: What was the hardest part about putting the series together?
JP: The hardest part has actually been getting actors in the right places at the right times. Since we are self-funded and the actors are unpaid, we rely on peoples' availability.
netTVnow: Were there any surprises when it came to filming the series?
JP: Vic's character was definitely a surprise. I didn't expect him to become such a compelling character for me because originally he and Curt were just Valentine and Curio, Orsino's servants. When Curt's actor had to depart the show, I started thinking about how that would affect Vic as a person, and I developed his own arc, which I didn't anticipate.
netTVnow: Where do you hope the web series community will be in the next few years?
JP: I'd like to see more people supporting other shows. If you work on a big show and there's a smaller one you're enjoying, I feel like you should have an obligation to use your power to help those with a smaller audience get noticed and share their story.