“My dad is an English professor at Seton Hill University and he teaches a Shakespeare class,” she says. “So from a very young age he would just tell me whatever his students were learning in their college classes and read me Shakespeare plays and take me to see [it] done in the area.”
Like Viola, Jerz is driven and full of wit: The 17-year-old is a three-time winner of the Pittsburgh Public Theatre Shakespeare Monologue and Scene Contest, and takes college classes. She says she relates to Viola’s persistence when finding love and devising plans.
“It’s still like I’m being me, but just in a Shakespeare play,” she says.
Twelfth Night runs from May 3-12. Deceit and romance combine in this Shakespearean comedy, which centers around the residents of the island of Illyria missing connections and finding love. –Amanda Reed, Pittsburgh Current