TN Shakespeare Company Presents AS YOU LIKE IT In Its New Home For The Holidays
Tennessee Shakespeare Company welcomes the festive winter season into its new home with a fun, interactive production of William Shakespeare's pastoral comedy As You Like It, the last show in TSC's Elizabethan Rep this year.
Directed by Dave Demke (TSC's Richard III in 2014) and acted by a company of 15 professional actors, As You Like It performs across three weeks from November 29 - December 16 and is generously sponsored by Pat and Ernest G. Kelly, Jr.
All performances take place at Tennessee Shakespeare Company, located in its new home at 7950 Trinity Road, Memphis 38018-6297. To purchase tickets or more information, go to www.tnshakespeare.org or call TSC's Box Office at (901) 759-0604 between 9am-5pm, Monday-Friday.
Employing structural elements from Shakespeare's Rose, Globe, and Blackfriars Playhouses, TSC's Elizabethan theatre features a timber and balcony structure within its largest current performance space (the future Owen and Margaret Wellford Tabor Stage). Audiences will recognize the structure, framing, and actor-audience intimacy from London's Globe Playhouse and the film Shakespeare in Love (a replica of the smaller Rose Playhouse).
The theatre will be in place through December as part of TSC's exploratory Elizabethan Rep Season, which previously featured the successful run of Macbeth. The design also will pilot a future permanent stage configuration that would be flexible as well as assist with acoustics and provide outstanding audience sight-lines.
In addition to the scenic construction, which erects playhouse walls behind the audience, the costume design takes its inspiration from Shakespeare's and America's periods of exploring the new natural world. The music of Shakespeare's stage will be played live on stage by a trio using early music instruments.
In As You Like It, Shakespeare crafts a quintessential Renaissance pastoral, with an ever-present wink of self-parody. His source was Thomas Lodge's Rosalynde, a prose pastoral romance, written around 1586. The pastoral form was extremely popular at the time, very urban in its view of rural life; it was a safe place to critique social, religious, and political norms in coded fiction.
As George Puttenham put it, "It was not the pastoral's purpose to counterfeit or represent the rusticall manner of love and communication: but under the vaile of homely persons, and in rude speeches, to insinuate and glance at greater matters, and such as perchance had not been safe to have been disclosed in any other sort."
Director Dave Demke says, "An apt contemporary analogue to the pastoral convention might be The Adventures of Robin Hood starring Errol Flynn on film. And in fact, the play's wrestler Charles describes the banished Duke as living in the forest 'like the old Robin Hood of England.'
"Typical pastoral conventions include an idyllic setting; an old shepherd of poetical and philosophical nature; the playing upon pipes; 'savage' men living outside of society yet noble in manner; the loner (for Shakespeare, Jaques); the beautiful shepherdess; and the pastoral debate, a leisurely philosophical discourse while tending sheep. Shakespeare plays with all of these, but he gives each his own particular twist. The main setting is the Forest of Arden, both familiar to his audiences and magical, and here it represents a golden world, another Eden, where reality and fantasy abide together. The old shepherd is there, but he is no poet. The poetry that does appear is bad, as Touchstone notes, playing upon the Eden metaphor, 'Truly, the tree yields bad fruit.' And Rosalind tells the beautiful shepherdess, 'sell when you can, you are not for all markets.'
"The play is built upon a series of paradoxes that Shakespeare used the pastoral form to create: the outlaws are gentle, the fools wiser than the philosophers, the young lover is a terrible poet, and the savage men are found in society rather than in nature."
It is believed that Shakespeare himself played the role of Old Adam, who, in following Orlando into Arden must leave the only home he has known for most of his life. But he gets to return to Eden, from whence he was banished in his youth.
"This is a familiar theme for Shakespeare, says Demke. "His characters often have to lose themselves in order to find themselves. Aliena, the name that Celia chooses for herself, was a typical pastoral name meaning 'the lost one.'
"In As You Like It, banishment is the driving force behind loss, and love is the path to enlightenment. The path of love is 'as you like it,' for each relationship needs its own, particular, foundation. And what better time than the holiday season to celebrate the restorative power of love."
The cast is led by Sara Malinowski* (Rosalind), Paul Kiernan* (Touchstone), Caley Milliken* (Jaques), Gabriel Vaughan* (Duke Senior/Duke Frederick), Meredith Koch (Celia), and Nicolas Dureaux Picou (Orlando). They are joined by Blake H. Currie (Silvius), Stuart Heyman (Old Adam), Michael Khanlarian (Corin/Jaques de Boyes), Marion Claire Hayner (Phebe), Shaleen Cholera (Oliver), Kilby Elisabeth Yarbrough (Amiens/Hymen), Carmen-maria Mandley (Audrey), Zach Williams (Le Beau), and Marlon Finnie (Charles).
The design team includes scenic designer Brian Ruggaber, costume designer DeAnna Rowe, lighting designer Jeremy Fisher, early music director and arranger Žak Ozmo, dance/movement choreographer Caley Milliken, and fight choreographer Edgar Landa.
The production stage manager is Melissa April Nathan* with assistant stage manager Leanna Keyes*.
As You Like It features two sets of brothers, one quarreling over a Dukedom, the other over a father's inheritance. Duke Frederick has usurped and banished his brother, Duke Senior, who now lives in the Forest of Arden like Robin Hood and his Merry Men. Oliver, the oldest son of Sir Rowland de Boys, is trying to rob his younger brother Orlando of his share of their father's inheritance.
Desperate to better his situation, Orlando challenges Duke Frederick's champion wrestler, Charles, to a match. With the odds stacked against him, and in near defeat, Orlando rallies to win the match and the heart of the banished Duke's daughter, Rosalind.
Paranoid about his niece falling in love with Orlando, Duke Frederick banishes Rosalind from his court, despite the desperate pleas of his daughter, Celia. Committing herself to banishment with Rosalind, Celia recruits her fool Touchstone to join them, and all three set off to find Rosalind's father, Duke Senior, in the Forest of Arden.
Meanwhile, Oliver hatches a plot to murder his brother, but Orlando learns of the plot and flees to Arden with Old Adam, his father's faithful servant.
Arriving in Arden, Rosalind (now disguised as a young man named Ganymede), Celia (now disguised as a maid, and the sister of Ganymede, named Aliena), and the undisguised fool Touchstone, find lodging in a small country cottage that comes complete with a small herd of sheep and a shepherd named Corin.
Orlando and Adam arrive in Arden as well, and stumble upon the banished Duke Senior and his merry band of Foresters. Duke Senior offers them shelter in his cave, and everyone settles in to an Arden winter.
Spring arrives and love begins to bloom. Rosalind learns that Orlando is in Arden and writing bad love poems professing his love for her. But as she is in disguise as a young man, she cannot profess her love openly. Meanwhile, the young dandy Silvius is head-over-heels in love with the young country maid Phebe, who falls in love with the pretty youth Ganymede, who is really Rosalind in disguise, and Touchstone is wooing the shepherdess Audrey. All while Duke Frederick has invaded Arden to retrieve his daughter Celia and arrest Orlando.
Forced to either lose her love or reveal her true identity, Rosalind weaves a magical strategy to bring a resolution to everyone's desire, and a dramatic turn of events changes the course of Duke Senior's future. In the end, love "as you like it" wins out as the characters embark on new journeys, new relationships, and new horizons.
General Admission tickets are $39. Performances are Thursday-Saturday at 7:00 pm, and Sunday at 3:00 pm.
The November 29 Preview is $19. The November 29, December 6, and December 13 performances are Free Will Kids' Nights: up to four children 17 years and younger are admitted free when accompanied by a paying/attending guardian (call the Box Office to secure Free Will tickets). Senior discounts (62+): $34. Student discounts (18+): $19.
November 30 is Opening Night, which welcomes patrons to a post-show reception with the actors.
Free Parking. No refunds/exchanges. Cast and schedule subject to change with notice.
TSC's generous season sponsors include ArtsMemphis; FedEx; the family of Ernest G. and Pat Kelly; Nancy R. Copp; C. Cato Ealy; International Paper; Tennessee Arts Commission; the family of Owen and Margaret Wellford Tabor; Barbara B. Apperson Angel Fund; International Paper; Evans/Petree, P.C.; Independent Bank; Arts Midwest; and The National Endowment for the Arts. TSC's season is funded under a Grant Contract with the State of Tennessee.