Arts & Events

Puget Sound theater reinvents ‘As You Like It’

After a five-year absence, the Bard once again graces the Puget Sound stage.

William Shakespeare’s romantic comedy “As You Like It” arrives on campus Oct. 28, 29, Nov. 2 and 4 at 7:30 p.m., Nov. 3 at 4 p.m., and Nov. 5 at 2 and 7:30 p.m. in the Norton Clapp Theatre. Tickets are now on sale at the Wheelock Information Center at $7 for students and $11 for general admission.

Directed by Theatre Arts professor Geoff Proehl, this semester’s main stage performance promises to create a world of Shakespeare’s fantasy full of the lunacy of love right here on our own campus.

If hearing that Shakespeare is the main stage performance this year makes you recall the long hours of dredging through your high school literature classes trying to decipher the plot and language of “Romeo and Juliet” and “Hamlet,” let me stave off your jitters.

While Shakespeare’s works give some high-schoolers the shakes, the beauty of performance is that what you read in class is given life and breath in front of your eyes and fleshed out for your viewing pleasure.

Thus, for those of you who are not Shakespeare nerds or enthusiasts, you can still enjoy and understand the upcoming play. Set in the era of the counter-culture movement of the 1960’s, “As You Like It” is staged to entice, not alienate, the audience.

“More than any message we want to get across is the feeling of engagement with the play, actors and plot. With the setting in the 1960’s we want to engross the audience in the characters, journey and language of the play,” Proehl said.

Shakespeare’s world is a realm  of fantasy and creativity, where everything is possible, allowing the audience to become involved in awareness and ethical debates of the characters as they journey through the play, creating their own world on stage and leading the audience on a voyage of discovery.

“The fun about a playwright like Shakespeare is that he gives you a lot of room to play around. And as you get more into the play and begin to develop the characters and setting the space in which you have to discover the potentiality of the play increases. The challenge and fun of this play is that its potential for creativity is inexhaustible,” Proehl said.

As previously mentioned, “As You Like It” is one of Shakespeare’s romantic comedies that playfully captures the heart and leads the audience towards topics of love.

What is great about the Bard is that his themes are timeless and resonate through the years.

As we watch the words of centuries past brought to us through the hard work of our fellow students and faculty members, we are not only led on a journey of self-discovery through love with the cast of characters, but we are also able to participate in the awakening and discovery of love ourselves.

“I think the value of falling in love is, for Shakespeare, not just about finding partners or spouses, but in finding out how big our hearts can be and how big the landscape that we call life is,” Proehl said, continuing, “the Forest of Arden where much of the play takes place is a space where all things are possible. You are able to reinvent yourself and explore the imagination. In this way, Arden becomes a rehearsal space and represents the nature of the theatre itself. In this setting you can go and become someone else for a while and explore yourself and learn more about what it means to be alive and to love.”

If romantic comedy seems a bit blasé for your taste, don’t fail to remember that not only is Shakespeare’s wit as sharp as a rapier, but “As You Like It” also features choreographed fight scenes ready to capture the duelist at heart.

Lively times are sure to follow with the opening of “As You Like It.”

Not only do the costumes invoke a fusion of the language of Shakespeare with the revolutionary mentality of the 1960’s, but also several live songs sung by the cast of Puget Sound actors to music of the 60’s ensure the light hearted merriment of one of the Bard’s comedies will keep the audience dancing in their seats.