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Vaughan’s vocabulary

March 2, 2013


On Feb. 22, I had the opportunity to sit onstage at Mississippi State University’s Lee Hall Auditorium for Shakespeare’s "Twelfth Night," performed by a troupe from the American Shakespeare Center in Staunton, Virginia. Stephanie Holladay Earl played the role of the voluptuous Olivia. Patrick Earl played Duke Orsino.

The view from onstage facilitated my willing suspension of disbelief and even made me feel that I was in Illyria. In Another Opening, Another Show, Tom Markus and Linda Sarver point out that WSOD is a theatrical convention where the audience members willingly suspend (set aside) their disbelief (their objectivity). The audience sets aside its knowledge that what is happening is fictitious. Being on stage for Twelfth Night was a thrilling night!    

1. Twelfth Night
A. the evening or sometimes the eve of Epiphany
B. the twelfth night of every month set aside for frivolity
C. twelve days before Christmas
D. None of the above

2. Epiphany (ih-PIHF-uh-nee)
A. a festival commemorating the Wise Men’s adoration of baby Jesus
B. a festival commemorating the Annunciation
C. the appearance of an angel by that name
D. None of the above

According to British scholar Alan Durband (1927-1993), Twelfth Night was first performed on January 6, 1601, the twelfth night after Christmas, which accounts for the otherwise irrelevant title. No. 1 is A.  No. 2 is A. Epiphany comes from a Greek word that means to appear or to show oneself.

3. epiphany (ih-PIHF-uh-nee)
A. a usually sudden manifestation or perception of the essential nature or meaning or something
B. an intuitive grasp of reality through something (as an event) usually simple and striking
C. an illuminating discovery
D. a revealing scene or moment

All four are correct for epiphany with a lower case “e.”   

4. coalesce (koh-uh-LES)
A. to blend or come together
B. to fight  
C. to act
D. None of the Above

In Twelfth Night, the playwright coalesced sentiment and humor. For example, Feste’s songs were witty and sad. A is the answer.

Last week’s mystery word is archipelago.

This week’s mystery word to solve is spoken by the Duke of Illyria in Act I, scene 1. It’s the last word spoken before Curio asks, “Will you go hunt, my lord?” The word’s second syllable is the abbreviation of a small Australian state.

Don R. Vaughan, Ph.D. in Mass Communication, is a professor at East Miss. Community College. Contact him at

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