Abbreviated Shakespeare Scripts for Schools-Twelfth Night One Hour

Join Now Button

read more reviews
Average rating:  
 2195 reviews
James Hamann
Sep 22, 2023
 by James Hamann on Drama Notebook


12 characters. A professionally edited one-hour version of Shakespeare’s play, ‘Twelfth Night’ that is royalty-free to Drama Notebook members! (3 credits.)

For ages 12 and up

Do you want to put on a Shakespeare production, but absolutely cannot perform the entire play? This abridged version of ‘Twelfth Night’ was professionally edited by a former Oregon Shakespeare Festival actor. The one-hour script features original dialogue interspersed with narration. This maintains the integrity of the play while significantly shortening it-making it easier for groups to perform.

Similar versions of abridged Shakespeare plays sell for $15 to $100 or more (depending on performance royalties)! On Drama Notebook, it is part of your membership and there are no royalties if there is no admission for performance.

Excerpt from the play:


NARRATOR, who also portrays a Sea Captain, a Police Officer and a Priest
ORSINO, A powerful duke
VIOLA, Sebastian’s twin sister, who spends the play disguised as a page-boy named Cesario
OLIVIA, a powerful duchess
SIR TOBY BELCH, Olivia’s uncle, as well as a drunkard ex-soldier
FESTE, Olivia’s court jester
MALVOLIO, Olivia’s head steward
MARIA, Olivia’s head serving-woman
SIR ANDREW, friend of Sir Toby’s, a well-to-do fop
SEBASTIAN, Viola’s twin brother
ANTONIO, a sailor and ex-Naval officer
FABIAN, a worker on Olivia’s estate


Act I
Scene 1

Duke Orsino’s palace.
(Thunder and lightning, the sound of crashing waves and battering winds.
Enter NARRATOR — perhaps dressed as a sea captain.)

Our story begins when two identical twins, Viola and Sebastian, are separated at sea when a violent storm destroys their ship. But as fate would have it, they both survive and wash up on the shore of an island, called: Illyria. However, they wash up on different sides of the island and each think that the other was killed in the storm. See you soon, Sebastian! We will get to know Viola first… in order to make enough money to get back home, she borrows men’s clothing from a sea captain (perhaps indicates himself) and works as a “page-boy” for Duke Orsino, the most powerful man in Illyria…
(Enter ORSINO, mopingly. Sinks into an easy chair as he speaks.)

If music be the food of love, play on!
Give me excess of it, that, surfeiting,
The appetite may sicken, and so die.
That strain again! it had a dying fall:
O, it came o’er my ear like the sweet sound,
That breathes upon a bank of violets,
Stealing and giving odour! Enough; no more!
‘Tis not so sweet now as it was before.
O spirit of love! how quick and fresh art thou.
(Calling out.)
Who saw Cesario?!
(Enter VIOLA. She goes to Orsino, and he cries on her shoulder as the NARRATOR speaks.)

Viola, now disguised as a boy named Cesario, quickly becomes Orsino’s favorite worker and his confidant. So, he gives her the all-important task of delivering a fancy love letter to a beautiful duchess, named Olivia…
(Enter OLIVIA She stands at a distance from ORSINO, to one side of the stage and looks at him. ORSINO reaches out for her dramatically, while still hugging VIOLA with one arm.)
You see, Orsino is painfully in love with Olivia — has been for years. But what makes his love even more painful is that Olivia has never, ever loved him back…
(OLIVIA looks at ORSINO disgustedly, and then she Exits.)

ORSINO  (To Narrator)
Stand you awhile aloof!
(NARRATOR smiles at the audience, and Exits.)
Cesario, thou know’st no less but all; I have un-clasp’d
To thee the book even of my secret soul:
Therefore, good youth, address thy gait unto her;
Be not denied access, stand at her doors,
And tell them, there thy fix-ed foot shall grow
Till thou have audience.

Sure, my noble lord,
She never will admit me.

Be clamorous and leap all civil bounds
Rather than make un-profited return.

Say I do speak with her, my lord, what then?

O, then unfold the passion of my love,
Surprise her with discourse of my dear faith!
It shall become thee well to act my woes.

I think not so, my lord.

Dear lad, believe it.
Prosper well in this,
And thou shalt live as freely as thy lord,
To call his fortunes thine.

I’ll do my best to woo your lady.
(ORSINO hands her a love letter to deliver, gives her a big hug, and Exits.
VIOLA watches him go, and then addresses audience.)
Yet, a barful strife!
Whoe’er I woo, myself would be his wife.
(She sighs, and Exits.)

Scene 2
Olivia’s house.

(Enter NARRATOR and OLIVIA, from separate sides of the stage. NARRATOR takes center stage and addresses the audience. OLIVIA stays off to one side, kneeling and praying, as if in front of two grave headstones; she is in black mourning clothes, perhaps with a veil over her face.)

Olivia has vowed a life of private mourning for seven years, because within the past year, both her father and her brother have died. But the arrival of this dashing and witty “page-boy” named Cesario sends Olivia and her court of characters into quite a stir!
(Exit NARRATOR. Enter SIR TOBY BELCH, stumbling; he is being lead by the court jester, FESTE. SIR TOBY is drunk.)

SIR TOBY BELCH  (Burping.)
Madam, there is at the gate a young gentleman much desires to speak with you.

OLIVIA  (Flipping up her veil.)
By mine honour, half drunk. What is he at the gate, uncle?

A gentleman!

What gentleman?

‘Tis a gentle man here!
(Gross burp.) —a plague o’ these pickle-herring!

Uncle, uncle — how have you come so early by this lethargy?

Lechery! I defy lechery.
There’s one at the gate.

Ay, marry, what is he?

Let him be the devil, I care not!

(Exits, stumbling.)

What’s a drunken man like, fool?

Like a drowned man, a fool and a mad man: one
draught above heat makes him a fool; the second mads
him; and a third drowns him.

Toby’s in the third degree of drink,
he’s drowned: go, look after him.

He is but mad yet, madonna; and the fool shall look
to the madman.
(Enter MALVOLIO, Olivia’s stuffy, no-fun steward.)

Madam, yond young fellow swears he will speak with
you. I told him you were sick; he takes on him to
understand so much, and therefore comes to speak
with you. I told him you were asleep; he seems to
have a foreknowledge of that too,and therefore
comes to speak with you. What is to be said to him, lady?

Tell him he shall not speak with me.

Has been told so; and he says, he’ll stand at your
door like a sheriff’s post, and be the supporter to
a bench, but he’ll speak with you.

Hmm… Let him approach: call in my gentlewoman.

Gentlewoman, my lady calls!
(Enter MARIA, a head attendant. She’s a spicy meatball.)

We’ll once more hear Orsino’s embassy.
(They both put their veils over their faces, and stand or sit side-by-side.
Enter VIOLA, as Cesario, of course.)

The honourable lady of the house, which is she?

Speak to me; I shall answer for her.
Your will?

VIOLA  (Reciting Orsino’s love letter from memory.)
“Most radiant, exquisite and unmatchable beauty,—”;

Come to what is important in your speech:
I forgive you the praise.

Alas, I took great pains to study it, and ‘ poetical.

It is the more like to be feigned: I pray you,
keep it in. I heard you were saucy at my gates,
and allowed your approach rather to wonder at you
than to hear you.

MARIA  (Trying to shoo VIOLA back out the door.)
Will you hoist sail, sir? here lies your way.

No, good swabber; I am to hull here a little

OLIVIA   (She is impressed by Viola’s sauciness.)
Speak your office.

It alone concerns your ear.

Hmm… Give us the place alone: we will hear this divinity.
(Exit MARIA)
Now, sir, what is your text?

“Most sweet lady,—”

A comfortable doctrine, and much may be said of it.
Where lies your text?

In Orsino’s bosom.

Play, Licensing and Copyright Information
Join our Facebook Sharing Group
Read Our Reviews
Member of…
Member of ASCD
Member of National After School Association

Why Subscribe?

DN Why Subscribe to Drama NotebookInside Drama Notebook, you will find a huge collection of well-organized lesson plans, scripts for kids, drama activities, 50 drama games on video and more! Join today and dramatically reduce your planning time while delivering fresh, innovative drama lessons to your students! If you are new to teaching drama, this site will be a Godsend! You will immediately feel confident about teaching drama like an expert. The site guides you step-by-step and provides you with materials that you can use right away with your students.

If you have been teaching for years, Drama Notebook will inspire you with a fresh new approach and innovative ideas!

The site is packed with original, innovative lessons and activities that you will not find anywhere else—and new materials are added monthly.

DN Explore Button
DN Join Now Button