As You Like It Q&A
In this Performing Arts Q&A session I speak with Erin Woods on Reduxion Theatre’s production of As You Like It and get inside the show.
What five words would you use to describe As You Like It?
1. Musical: more live music than we have ever done in a Shakespeare play
Now, using more than five words, what’s it about?
“As You Like It” is a play that studies different kinds of love in the face of adversity. In the first Act of the play, our heroine and hero are both thrown into peril and banished from their individual homes. The second half of the play, all characters make pilgrimage to a rustic location called “The Forest of Arden.” In this pastoral place, they feel at leisure to meditate on ideas of wealth, ease, freedom and of course, love. While the play is first and foremost a love story, the pilgrimage, themes of discovery and pastoral location evoked for me the famous 20th century pilgrimage of many Westerners to India: especially the Beatles famous trip to India in 1968.
What are some unique aspects for your version of As You Like It?
We have set the play in 1968 in France and India. Reduxion’s signature twist… this time a fresh take on the classical convention of “pastoral comedy,” wonderfully highlights the themes of “As You Like It”. In the 20th century there is a time of awakening in the Western world: people traveled to make discovery of Eastern ideas, ways of life, love, philosophy and religion. We at Reduxion always use Shakespeare’s language for our primary inspiration. The concept, even a completely surprising concept, always serves the play, not the other way around.
What was the biggest challenge with this production?
Opening the brand new theater space for the opening of this production was a challenge; but we LOVE our new space and all of the new luxuries it affords: Reduxion’s new venue offers our audiences lots of surprising improvements: the new venue is certainly a step-up for us. We have built a professional bar area and box office area; we have more restrooms; the building has a comfortable shared lobby for pre-show and intermission; the location is exciting – it offers prime accessibility for nightlife before and after performances; the performance and seating space remains intimate, but can accommodate larger crowds.
Now that you’ve had a few nights in the new location, what does everyone think about it?
We have received nothing but great feedback. The new space is still a bit of a work in process, so new improvements every day to our seating, and our technical equipment, but all patrons have expressed that the new theater is a step-up for Reduxion.
Why should one see it?
“As You Like It” has an incredible cast of multi-talented actor/singer/musicians. Lindsay Pittman plays the leading role Rosalind, a “pants-part” meaning she spends a great deal of the play disguised as a boy. Pittman is very much a Gamine type: elfish, slender, boyish but beautiful, with gorgeous big eyes; all one would want in a Rosalind. But she is distinctly less Audrey Hepburn and more of a Jean Seberg or Twiggy-type which is perfect for this show, time-period and setting. She brings a great energy and thoughtfulness to Rosalind. Pittman worked with RTC for the first time this summer in “The Women”. Rachael Barry, a long time RTC company member plays Celia, Rosalind’s cousin and constant companion. Shakespeare’s Celia is loyal, kind, sweet and a little mischievous. Barry brings a sensitivity and a sexiness to the role which makes Celia all the more exciting. Kyle Whalen is currently a student at the OU School of Drama and plays Orlando, Rosalind’s love-interest and a poetry-writing, athletic champion. Whalen is also an accomplished musician. He brings an earnestness and a playfulness to the role that is quite refreshing. The whole company is strong; a terrific mix of new artists and long-time RTC company members.
What advice do you for directors putting on a production of As You Like It?
Cast great actors, like I did.
Anything else you want people to know?
This show is perfect for people who have never seen Shakespeare. Reduxion stays true to the language, our foremost aim, but we always strive to find new ways to engage and surprise audiences. We always desire to delight our long-time patrons, but we also wish to attract new audiences – some perhaps that have been hesitant to see Shakespeare for the first time, or don’t think they’ll like Shakespeare. We want Oklahoma to know that Reduxion endeavors to change your mind: Give us a chance to show you the excitement, the vitality and the relevance of these classic works: that is our motto – “Revisit the Classics.”
Final shows tonight and tomorrow (feb 28-Mar 1) Order tickets at our website: reduxiontheatre.com