After reorganizing and returning to staging shows, the State College Community Theatre will present its production of William Shakespeare’s “As You Like It” on Saturday and Sunday in the auditorium of the Foxdale Village Retirement Community in State College.
“As You Like It” is a pastoral comedy believed to have been written by Shakespeare in 1599. The play is set in a village in France, but most of the action takes place in a location called the Forest of Arden.
In the play, Rosalind, daughter of the banished Duke Senior, flees along with her cousin, Celia, into the Forest of Arden to escape her uncle, Duke Frederick. In order to avoid trouble, Rosalind disguises herself as a man. While in the forest, “Ganymede” (the disguised Rosalind) runs into Orlando de Boys, who she is madly in love with. Orlando doesn’t recognize Rosalind, however, and she keeps up the pretense in order to “coach” Orlando on the proper way to woo Rosalind. Other memorable characters also inhabit the Forest, including the clown Touchstone and the melancholy Jaques, who delivers Shakespeare’s famous “all the world’s a stage” monologue.
A SCCT Outreach Project, “As You Like It” is directed by Eli Yurman and stars Beth Kriner, Reilly Brown, Austen Auriemma, Julia Laplante, Claire Bingaman, Mary Rose Valentine, Jon Perini, Ryan Babb, Casey Snyder, Ed Strause, J. Lance Wilkinson, Amy Farkas, Ethan Palmer and Rebecca Hille.
This production is bare-bones: no set, no lighting changes and costumes that are almost entirely modern-day clothing — allowing the acting to become the main focus for the audience.
“Additionally, one of the biggest challenges Shakespeare often presents is being inaccessible or hard to understand,” Yurman said. “I hope that by putting my characters into modern clothes I’ve made the story easier to relate to.”
A strong, intelligent, and independent woman, Rosalind is Kriner’s favorite type of character to portray.
“Because of Rosalind’s father being banished from the Duke’s kingdom, eventually Rosalind is banned as well,” she said. “So, she and her best friend take to hiding in the forest of Arden, where Rosalind disguises herself as a man so thieves will not try to attack ‘two beautiful maids.’ Because of Rosalind’s disguise as a man, where she now calls herself Ganymede, this is where the show becomes complicated.”
“As You Like It” is not one of Shakespeare’s better-known works, and SCCT thought it deserved the spotlight.
“This is Shakespeare’s first example of gender-swapping — written before “Twelfth Night,” although performed later,” Yurman said. “A lot of his favorite comedic elements are apparent throughout the show.”
“The gender switching of Rosalind-Ganymede is quite humorous and really keeps it very interesting to all audiences,” Kriner said.
Kriner hopes that people are entertained by the comedy, but take away something else, too.
“It’s a comedy, so hopefully it makes people laugh — laughter is good for the soul, after all,” Kriner said. “But I also think this is a good reminder and challenge to our audience that even when times are difficult or may seem hopeless, there is always joy to be found as long as there is love. No matter what trials or obstacles they are facing in life, nothing is unbearable to those who have friends and love around them.”
Although Shakespeare’s dialogue can be challenging, Yurman thinks the actors do an excellent job of “finding the comedy in every scene and making it accessible to all.”
“My goal is always to inspire people to continue to come to the theater, and to encourage anyone who might be hesitant to about auditioning to go for it,” Yurman said. “SCCT has always been about our community putting on shows together, and I think that ‘As You Like It’ makes that easy to see.”
IF YOU GO
- What: State College Community Theatre’s “As You Like It”
- When: 7 p.m. Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday
- Where: Foxdale Village Auditorium, 500 E. Marylyn Ave., State College
- Info: www.scctonline.org