Students, faculty and members of the Florence community filled the Chapman Auditorium recently to see the American Shakespeare Center perform William Shakespeare’s play “As You Like It.”
“As You Like It” is a romantic comedy that shows love in various forms: love that grows gently, love that causes pain, and love that is overwhelming are different forms of love that the characters face. This play is known for the famous line, “All the world’s a stage.”
The play was sponsored by the Francis Marion University Artist Series and the Department of English.
“As You Like It” takes place in two different settings: the court of Duke Frederick and the Forest of Arden. Throughout the play, 11 performers changed characters in order to tell the story of Rosalind, played by Denice Burbach, and her cousin Celia, played by Brandi Rhome, fleeing into the Forest of Arden to escape a death sentence ordered by Duke Frederick.
According to the American Shakespeare Center, the actors perform in costumes that speak to the audience in the most familiar language possible while staying consistent with the words of the play. Also, the actors performed the play with the lights on, recreating the outdoor Globe Theatre experience for the audience. Audience members surrounded the stage while the performers interacted periodically with them. This created bonds with the audience that could not be created if the lights were off and displayed how lively the actors were.
Assistant Professor of history Christopher Kennedy commented on how impressed he was with the actors and the play.
“I thought the play was awesome,” Kennedy said. “I have seen this play performed before, and I enjoyed how it was performed here. The way the actors involved the crowd, how minimal props were used and the energy of the actors was amazing and what I enjoyed the most.”
A member of the audience who was onstage was FMU sophomore Nikki Milligian, a biology major. She attended the show with her friend, and she said that she enjoyed the love story and how it was performed.
“I have been to plays before but not this style where the audience can sit on the stage and interact with the performers,” Milligian said. “I enjoyed this style better than sitting and watching a play with no audience interaction. I also enjoyed the love story that was told in play.”
The American Shakespeare Center is known internationally for its theatre company that performs in the first original recreation of Shakespeare’s indoor theatre, the Blackfriars Playhouse. The company has been around since 1988 and is located in Staunton, Va. The playhouse is known as one of America’s premiere Shakespeare destinations.
More information about the American Shakespeare Center and upcoming performances can be found at www.americanshakespearecenter.com.