On Thursday, June 25 the Department of Performing Arts at Carroll Community College (CCC) presented William Shakespeare’s ‘As You Like It’ , directed by Bill Gillett.
‘As You Like It’ is one of Shakespeare’s most well-known comedies, featuring the much quoted line, “All the world’s a stage”. The plays follows Rosalind as she is banished from her uncle’s court and escapes to the Forest of Arden. Her cousin, Celia, accompanies her, and both find themselves in the company of the exiled Duke, a melancholy man, a swooning shepherdess, and end up trying to sort out the mayhem and romance that follows.
Although originally set in France and written around 1600, this particular production at CCC has several creative twists to it, right from the opening scene set to an upbeat techno tune. The costumes include spandex wrestling singlets, shiny black sunglasses and miniskirts, and an assorted costume array of flowing, medieval robes alongside bohemian pants and crop tops. The scenery is barebones simple, a blank cloth lit by bright colors. Three brown cloths unfurled from above set the stage for the forest scenes, but no other scenery makes an appearance.
CCC’s Chair of Performing Arts and ‘As You Like It’ director, Bill Gillett, explained the creative choices.
“That’s always my desire that when we do Shakespeare, we try and reimagine it in a way that I think appeals to a modern audience,” Gillett said. “The idea this time was to keep it kind of unspecific modern so you can’t really place it in any region or time period. It could be anywhere from the 1970s to today. It’s a very eclectic mix of things, that was the idea, so that the play shines through. In this case, I think it’s the words and the story that I want people to focus on the most.”
There is some history behind the modern-meets-Shakespeare choices at work here as well.
“Honestly, if you want to look at it historically,” Gillett continued,” Shakespeare, when he did plays in the Globe, they wore Elizabethan clothing. Even if the play was set in ancient Greece they wore [Elizabethan clothing. They were wearing contemporary clothing, so Shakespeare gives us permission to wear contemporary clothing, too.”
“I’m not really a big theatre person,” Sara said. “But I thought it might be fun to come and see an outdoor play.”
And although the production moved inside due to rain, the play proved itself enjoyable.
“It seemed really fresh and funny, and not what I was expecting,” Sara said. “Like, right at the beginning when I heard the weird music, I was just captivated.”
Barbara Faid is a community member who has come to see several plays at CCC, including the spring presentation of ‘One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest’. Faid’s daughter, Meredith, works behind the scenes in the theatre productions, something Faid said her daughter loves doing. Bob Townsend, Meredith’s grandfather, came to see ‘As You Like It’ as well.
“These kids here, what they’re doing is just great,” Townsend said. He also praised the combination of modern elements into the Shakespeare play, saying he thought it was very well done.
“It’s not overwhelming,” Townsend said. “You’re not sitting here scratching your head trying to figure out what they’re doing.”
There will be two more presentations of ‘As You Like It’ on Friday, June 26 and Saturday, June 27, both at 8pm in the Rotary Amphitheater and the audience in encouraged to bring lawn chairs or blankets. In case of rain, the show will be held indoors in the theatre in the Scott Center. Admission is free.