Steampunk meets postapocalyptic in Bethel Theatre’s re-imagined adaptation of one of Shakespeare’s most-loved comedies, ‘As You Like It.’
James Schuster | The Clarion
When Rosalind is exiled from her home in the Court of France she faces the doom and gloom of banishment within the Forest of Arden. It’s the plot of Bethel’s spring theatrical performance, “As You Like It.”
“There’s this idea in the play where people are banished to the forest” Brent Adams, Bethel Theatre professor and director of ‘As You Like It,’ said. “We don’t have a modern conception of being sent to the forest. When we think of being sent to the forest we think of hiking trails and pleasantness and commuting with nature. In this play, they are banished, really to what they expect to be their doom.”
Adams hopes audiences will find an edgier twist on the Shakespearean classic while still connecting with the ideas of banishment and being cut-off from civilization. To achieve this, Adams set the production in a post-apocalyptic world.
“In the play, love comes in a lot of different forms. There’s a lot of different aspects of love in terms of camaraderie and brotherly love and familial love and redemption and all these other things that play into the idea of love,” Adams said.
Adams hopes that the darkness of a post-apocalyptic world will lend itself to making these themes all the more
Sophomore Beret Leone will perform in a leading role as Celia—the best friend and cousin of the play’s central character, Rosalind. Rosalind is performed by senior Kelly Anderson.
Leone spends time preparing for the show by memorizing her lines with flashcards and also seeking to draw personal connection to her character.
“Celia’s relationship with Rosalind reminds me of one of my best friends from high school,” Leone said. “I take that into the relationship with Rosalind. Also, Celia is kind of a princess, and I can sometimes be a little bit of a diva that way, which helps me to relate.”
Cast members are working to perform the original text while resetting it with new concepts and ideas—something Adams discussed with his actors at the first-read through of the play.
Student-actors are working to understand and memorize the Shakespearean text and properly speak the iambic pentameter. The cast is using “No Fear Shakespeare” scripts as a part of the process to easily define words and help further their understanding of the intricacies in the plot.
“Shakespeare was written for the stage, and so your biggest job is still to act and use that rich language to your benefit rather than being intimidated by it,” Adams said.
Those involved with the show are hoping the reimagined elements of the show will bring the themes of salvation and love closer to the hearts and minds of audience members.
“When [the characters] are kicked out of the court into banishment in the forest, they find people who care, they find a simpler way of life and they find goodness,” Adams said.
‘As You Like It’ performances run April 21-May 1 and tickets are for sale at the box office.
“I just really want the audience to laugh,” Leone said. “People really underestimate how funny Shakespeare really is. I think people will find that it’s really hilarious and easier to follow than they might think. You’ll get a laugh out of this.”