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Stevenson Villager

Stevenson Villager

As You Like It Comes to Stevenson’s Stage

By: Amy Dell and Sasha Schaffer

Stevenson University goes back in time for their first live performance since the pandemic, introducing Shakespeare’s As You Like It with a 1960s twist. Curtains open on November 4 at 7 p.m. on the Greenspring Campus. 

Director Jenny Male, an adjunct professor of theatre, had crafted a 1960s-inspired version of the Shakespeare comedy before, but said she “developed this cut of [As You Like It] specifically for these students at Stevenson.” 

The plot of this play lends itself to a 60s interpretation.  

“You have all these characters in, sort of, the city, in the court world,” said Male, “and then suddenly, many of them become banished, or they go to the woods to find themselves, to find more meaning and that very much leans into the 60s and going to Woodstock, literally going to the woods and finding more freedom and more joy in life.”  

As You Like It Flyer via Stevenson’s Theater Department

As You Like It has two main plots. The first conflict is between Duke Frederick and his older brother Duke Senior as Frederick takes his older brother’s seat on the throne. The second conflict is between Orlando and his older brother Oliver. Orlando is in love with Rosalind, who flees the city for the Forest of Arden with her cousin Celia.  

Once the characters enter the woods, the 1960s inspiration comes into focus. “There is a sense of play and freedom and trying to find yourself and figure out who you are – and that’s where the bell-bottoms come in… And the columns are going to transform in a groovy way into trees when we go to the woods,” said Male.  

“[The play] is really funny,” said Freshman Mikaila Henderson, who plays Celia, “there’s lots of people making fun of each other, there’s different ‘fight’ scenes and different characters falling in love with each other.” 

“Even though [Celia] is a royal in the court, she’s really free-spirited and fun,” said Henderson. She likes to have fun with Rosalind and make her laugh, kind of to cheer her up and stuff.” 

Henderson sees some similarities between Celia and herself off-stage “I’m kind of playful and I joke around with my friends too. I feel like Celia, she cares a lot about Rosalind, who is pretty much her sister, her family – I care a lot about my family too.” 

Senior Alison Burke, who is playing Rosalind, said that this is her second time playing Rosalind in As You Like It, “I played her my senior year of high school.” 

Burke said her character, Rosalind is close with her cousin, Celia, and they became inseparable when Rosalind’s father was banished from the land.  

“Rosalind is very into social connection. She likes to learn other people’s stories and try to help them as well.” said Burke. 

Burke connects to Rosalind’s mentality throughout the play, “we both try to help people, as we deal with our own internal struggles.” 

Burke finds that she does better portraying her characters when she makes an emotional connection. When she takes an internal approach when acting, she said “I can draw from my own experience, I believe it helps portray a more realistic and honest character.” 

As You Like It has a 14-person cast; “I think it’s one of the largest shows they’ve done in a while, and it’s certainly trying to bring back people to live theater and bring students opportunities,” said Male.  

Henderson said she found the acting and directing strong. “Everybody that was cast in a role plays their part really well, so their characterization is really clear,” she said. And “Jenny also does a really good job of plotting the scenes so we can know who the characters are and why they’re in the story – what they do and what their part is in the whole story,” said Henderson. 

With so many actors and crew in the production, COVID safety is a must. “The performers are masked, per Stevenson guidelines,” said Male, “patrons will be masked as well.”  

Henderson said that the challenge of wearing masks while acting is a matter of projection. “It’s kind of hard to make your voice loud enough for the audience to hear you with something covering your face,” she said.  “So, we have to work extra hard at that, but I think we’re doing good so far.”  

Burke’s thoughts on wearing a mask during production was an unfortunate circumstance made into something positive.  

“It’s a bit of a physical obstacle with trying to keep it over your nose, but I do think we have really adjusted.” Burke added, “It’s a part of our costume.” 

“Of course, everyone wants to be unmasked and have your voices boom to the back of the house, but they are doing a really great job of performing with the entire body, so you understand it,” Male said. “They will also be miked which will help with the voices.” 

“The hope is for the masks to just blend away with the costumes,” said Henderson. The protective items will be black or gray to avoid drawing attention. “I’m used to acting with my face,” Henderson said, “but since half of it is covered, I really have to do up my facial expressions and also do more movements.” 

Male and the performers have been working through the COVID precautions and preparing the play since early September. “We’ve been working on staging and putting the show together, but now it’s part two,” said Male “Now we’re halfway through – where do [the actors] want to take the characters next? I’m just here to guide them on their journey to the woods.” 

You can see As You Like It at the Greenspring Campus’s Inscape Theater. Tickets are $5 for students and $10 for other adults. Performances are November 4, 5 & 6 at 7:00 p.m., and November 7 at 2:00 p.m. 

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As You Like It Comes to Stevenson’s Stage