A special piece of cinema history has been unveiled. Seven years before Orson Welles would embark on the production of his legendary directorial debut Citizen Kane, he shot one of his earliest short films, capturing his production of William Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night. The year was 1933 and Welles, only 17 years old, returned to his alma mater, the Todd Seminary for Boys, an independent school in Woodstock, Illinois. Under the tutelage of headmaster and mentor Roger Hill, who encouraged Welles to freely experiment with theatrical and radio productions, he mounted the project.

Now, nearly a century later, around 10 minutes of surviving color footage with sound has been digitized, graciously released by Wellesnet, who acquired it from Roger Hill’s granddaughter Wendy Hill and her cousin Todd Tarbox, who holds the copyright. “My father, Hascy, was cast as Sir Andrew Aguecheek, and my mother, Joanne, played Viola,” Tarbox told Wellesnet. “This production won first prize at the 1933 Chicago Drama Festival and was later performed at the 1933 World’s Fair, A Century of Progress Exposition.”

Featuring narration, costume design, and set design by Welles, we can see the budding director’s appreciation for storytelling as the film opens by flipping pages through a storybook before opening on the set. Welles, who employs mostly static shots with the camera, did the lighting and most of the filming on equipment loaned to him by Hill. The audio was then recorded later on a gramophone disc.

Before Welles would return to Shakespeare throughout his career, get an early glimpse at his craft by watching below, and learn more at Wellesnet.

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