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Play is ‘As You Like It’

by Rod Jones

The Oklahoma City University School of Theatre will stage an adapted production of William Shakespeare’s “As You Like It” April 7 through 10.

The production will be staged in the Burg Theatre in Kirkpatrick Fine Arts Center. Show times are 8 p.m. April 7, 8 and 9; and 2 p.m. April 9 and 10. Tickets are available online at okcu.edu/tickets or by calling 405-208-5227.

The production at OCU coincides with the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death.

“As You Like It” is considered by many to be one of Shakespeare’s most inventive comedies. The heroine, Rosalind, is praised as one of his most inspiring characters and has more lines than any other of Shakespeare’s female characters.

The story: Girl meets boy. Girl loses boy. Girl dresses as boy to teach boy to seduce girl. Girl gets boy.

Rosalind, the daughter of a banished duke, falls in love with Orlando, the disinherited son of one of the duke’s friends. When she is banished from the court by her usurping uncle, Rosalind switches genders and as Ganymede travels with her loyal cousin and the jester Touchstone to the Forest of Arden, where her father and his friends live in exile. Observations on life and love follow including one of Shakespeare’s most famous speeches when Jaques reminds the audience, “All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players…”

Stephen Wrentmore, an international theater director and OCU professor who adapted the play, says his production will be a celebration of love in all its complexity.

“The play is a joyful romantic comedy,” Wrentmore said. “It’s ridiculously silly with intentional confusion through disguises and misunderstanding. It features a moral core where love and good triumphs over hate and evil.”

For OCU’s adaptation, Wrentmore reduced the script’s run time to slightly more than 1 hour and 30 minutes to be what he calls a “contemporary rom-com.” He also reset the play to the Bronx in 1979, and one scene into a mythical forest somewhere in Appalachia where love is released.

“We move from the hip-hoppin’ hectic city to the calm of the pastoral. Our brilliant design team has created a delightful and extraordinary universe for the actors to play in,” he added.

Beyond “As You Like It,” the School of Theatre professors are also working on projects to recognize Shakespeare, including Kate Brennan leading staged readings of all of his works in chronological order with Shakespeare in the Park and D. Lance Marsh producing a “Day of Sonnets” on the OCU campus later this spring.

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