The New Albany High School Drama Department is proud to present William Shakespeare’s classic pastoral comedy As You Like It as its spring production. “For years, I have dreamed of staging one of Shakespeare’s plays,” says Drama Director Elliott Lemberg. “After last year’s productions of Chicago and Our Town, we wanted to select something lighter, a real crowd pleaser, which led us to Shakespeare’s comedies. Considered by many scholars to be one his greatest comedies, As You Like It seemed like a play that could both educate and entertain.”
Written in 1599, As You Like It begins with the usurpation of the beloved Duke Senior by his conniving younger brother Duke Frederick and his banishment to the Forest of Arden. Duke Senior’s daughter, the beautiful and enchanting Rosalind, has been allowed by Duke Frederick to remain at court because of the close bond she shares with his daughter Celia. Oliver de Boyes, the eldest son of the deceased Sir Rowland de Boyes who has inherited all of his father’s monies and properties through primogeniture, plots to have his younger brother Oliver killed in a match with Duke Frederick’s favorite wrestler Charles. In the wrestling match, Oliver defeats Charles and in so doing not only catches the eye of Rosalind but also the ire of Duke Frederick. In order to survive the Duke’s wrath, Oliver must flee to the Forest of Arden. Duke Frederick turns his ire on his niece Rosalind and banishes her from the court; if she stays, he will have her killed. Rosalind and Celia decide to disguise themselves and flee the court with the court jester Touchstone, seeking out Rosalind’s banished father, Duke Senior, in the Forest of the Arden. And so, all of our characters leave the court for the forest, a place of beauty and love where people can reconnect with the natural world and also celebrate their individuality. The forest is a place where great change is possible, a place where even the hardest heart can soften as it listens to “…books in the running brooks, sermons in stones…” and finds “…good in everything”.
In order to engage and excite a present-day audience in the universal language and themes of the Bard, the directors decided to modernize the world of their production. Using Suzanne Collins’s dystopic young adult fiction series The Hunger Games as inspiration, the directors decided to provide a stark contrast between two worlds established in the play (the court of Duke Frederick and the Forest of Arden), similar to the contrast between the Capitol and the Districts in The Hunger Games. Duke Frederick’s court is cold, dark, and “envious”, a place of “painted pomp” where deceit and subterfuge are commonplace and segregation based on birth order, class, and gender is state policy. People are not allowed to embrace their individuality; they must swear their allegiance to the Duke Frederick or face fatal consequences. Also, technology is omnipresent throughout this world, further disconnecting its denizens from each other and from nature. However, the Forest of Arden, brimming with natural beauty and wonder, is an inspiration, a place where everyone is treated equally and the fauna and foliage become salves for the soul. In Arden, love is free to bud and blossom like the petals of flowers and take on a cleansing and transformative power stronger than any autocrat or ideology. Just like in Panem’s District’s, a communion with the land spurs a great good within us, which can be used to remake face of our world and celebrate the joy of being alive.
The directors – Mr. Elliott Lemberg, Ms. Jessica Nettler (Technical Director), and Ms. Melissa Schill (Managing Director) – are excited to welcome back professional set designer Carla Raleigh who will visit New Albany High School between April 16th and April 21st to work with Mr. Lemberg’s drama students as well as students from the high school visual arts classes. Many audience members may remember Ms. Raleigh’s stunning work on 2011’s comedy Picasso at the Lapin Agile for which she recreated Pablo Picasso’s famous Les Demoiselle D’Avignon in Mershad Hall. Also returning is guest lighting designer Mr. Jon Gillie; his past designs for the NAHS Drama Department include Hairspray, Noises Off, Picasso at the Lapin Agile, Chicago, Our Town, Almost, Maine, and Legally Blonde the Musical. Professional costume designer Tatjana Longerot is excited to be working on her first production with the New Albany High School Drama Department.
Tickets are $12 general admission and $7 for staff/senior citizens/students. Tickets can be purchased at www.seatyourself.biz/nahs and also will be sold at the door on the day of the show. We hope to see you at Mershad Hall in the Jeanne B. McCoy Community Center for the Performing Arts on Thursday April 25th and Friday, April 26th at 7:30 P.M. and Saturday, April 27th at 2:30 P.M. and 7:30 P.M. for this entertaining and enlightening spectacle!