JSU to Raise Curtain on Theatre Season with Shakespeare Comedy
by Brett Buckner
Back in William Shakespeare’s time, women weren’t allowed on stage. Therefore, female roles – from Juliet to Desdemona – were played by men. With its upcoming production of the Shakespearean comedy “As You Like It,” director Michael Boynton is flipping the script on that tradition by casting an all-woman cast.
“This idea served as the initial impetus for me to re-envision the play in an entirely new, different and highly conceptual way – a way that would appeal to my students and audiences,” said Boynton, associate professor of theatre. “As such, I have actually adapted the play for our production, adding and removing text and changing the original play and putting it in a new context. It should be a very exciting new version and vision for 'As You Like It'.”
Written and performed for the first time around 1598-1600, "As You Like It" is a five-act comedy that tells the story of Rosalind, a duke's daughter, who flees to the forest in exile with her cousin, Celia. There, she reunites with her love, Orlando, but is disguised as a shepherd boy. It’s from this play that we first hear Shakespeare’s famous line, “All the world's a stage, and all the men and women merely players."
“Once I started working on the play as the director, one of the main themes I first latched onto was gender,” Boynton said. "I feel like, of all of Shakespeare's plays, 'As You Like It' is perhaps the most gender affirming and fluid for the female characters."
The 15-member cast has been rehearsing 16-20 hours a week for the past two months.
"I am hoping that they get to see how important and powerful theatre can be – how even an old Shakespeare play can be made fun, engaging and topical with audiences today,” Boynton said. “I think our special adaptation of 'As You Like It' will be especially good at speaking to our times, especially the younger generations."
Show dates are:
- Friday, Oct. 27 at 7:30 p.m.
- Saturday, Oct. 28 at 7:30 p.m.
- Sunday, Oct. 29 at 2:30 p.m.
- Monday, Oct. 30 at 7:30 p.m.
Tickets are $12 online or $14 at the box office.