William Shakespeare’s pastoral romantic comedy, As You Like It, opens Thursday, October 13, at 8 p.m. and runs through Sunday, October 23 in the Bruce Davis Theater, MH. Ticket prices are $4 or $6, general admission. To make reservations, call the Theater Box Office at 240-895-4243 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
Produced by the Department of Theater, Film, and Media Studies and directed by faculty member and Shakespeare expert Michael Ellis-Tolaydo, As You Like It is showing Oct. 13-15 and 20-22 at 8 p.m. and Oct. 16 and 23 at 2 p.m.
Like all of Shakespeare’s romantic comedies, including A Midsummer’s Night Dream and Twelfth Night, As You Like It is about love. Who will fall in love, out of love, escape love, pine for love, or have love requited. Love is what makes the world go round.
In the Forest of Arden, where Shakespeare sets most of the action of his play, everything turns topsy-turvy and nothing is what it seems to be.
Arden is Shakespeare’s signature magical place, set far from the political rivalries and intrigues of royal Court life. Here, with a little bit of clowning, lots of disguise, and some music and song, the outcast and dissenter finds refuge, renewal, and love at first sight.
“It’s funny, you know. The play starts out like a serious drama,” director Ellis-Tolaydo says. “Treachery, envy, bad blood between brothers, political maneuverings, abuses of power, disloyalties. Then we escape to the forest, where the seemingly improbable happens. We learn of the importance of love in human existence.”
As the play’s fool, Touchstone, sums it up. “Would you rather have a fool to make me merry than experience to make me sad?”
With the help of her cousin Celia (sophomore Katie Henry) and Touchstone (senior Jess O’Rear), the banished Rosalind (first-year Emma Kaufman) searches in Arden for her exiled mother, the deposed but rightful Duchess (senior Jameylyn Warren). Disguised as the boy Ganymede, she meets Orlando (junior Nick Huber), whom she loved at Court, but who is now on the run from his treacherous elder brother, Oliver (junior Zach Eser).
Romance, however, outsmarts intrigue.
Smitten by Rosalind in her disguise as the boy Ganymede, Orlando pines melancholically for requited love, and pins his declarations to tree after tree in the forest. Will he find it?
In “As You Like It,” the human heart may be fickle, but Rosalind’s optimism trumps all.