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John Kinzer
IU Department of Theatre and Drama
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Last modified: Tuesday, October 27, 2009

IU Theatre and Drama presents fresh vision of Shakespeare's comedy 'As You Like It'

WHAT: As You Like It by William Shakespeare under the direction of Fontaine Syer.
WHEN: Opens Friday, Nov. 13, at 7:30 p.m. Runs Nov. 14, 17-21 at 7:30 p.m. and Saturday, Nov. 21 at 2 p.m.
WHERE: All performances take place at the Ruth N. Halls Theatre at Indiana University Bloomington. No photography or recording of any kind is permitted during performances.
TICKETS: Regular admission $20, $15 for students/seniors; Student Rush Tickets: $12 cash with a valid IU Bloomington student ID on the day of each performance. Tickets available at IU Auditorium or online at theatre.indiana.edu.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
October 27, 2009

Bloomington, Ind. -- Indiana University's Department of Theatre and Drama continues its 2009/2010 theater season with a fresh take on William Shakespeare's As You Like It under the direction of Fontaine Syer, associate professor of acting and directing.

"As You Like It"

First-year M.F.A acting student Jaysen Wright, as Silvius, professes his love for Peter, played by freshman B.F.A. student Evan Mayer, in the IU Department of Theatre and Drama's production of "As You Like It" in the Ruth N. Halls Theatre. The play opens Nov. 13.

Print-Quality Photo

Over the years, the bard's work has been open to countless interpretations, from more than 400 films to re-imaginings of Shakespeare's stories in books for children and young adults.

IU's new production focuses solely on the exploration of "the human organism in love." The power structure has been altered, shifting the focus to a play about mothers and sisters (instead of fathers and daughters). Roles typically played by females have been switched to male roles while some typically male roles will be played by females.

"There is a broad range of characters falling in love and following their hearts," Syer said. "When you fall in love, you sort of lose control. You lose your mind a little, and your body starts telling you to do all kinds of things you would never do if you weren't in love."

Jonathan Courtemanche, second-year M.F.A. directing student, is assistant director and co-adapted the script with Syer. Courtemanche said this adaptation speaks to a contemporary audience with the battle to define marriage being played out on ballots, most contentiously on California Proposition 8. The play concludes with two conventional couples, one same-sex male couple and one same-sex female couple getting married.

"Everyone should have the right to stand up with the one they love," Courtemanche said.

Aside from altering many he/she pronouns, the adapters explored a number of words synonymous with "humankind," choosing to replace gender-specific words with terms such as "soul" or "one."

One of the reasons for making so many characters female is that "women so often get cheated when we do Shakespeare," said Syer. "There are always so many more men than women. The women's roles are fabulous, but there usually aren't very many of them."

The Department of Theatre and Drama is collaborating with award-winning composer Mark Oliveiro, a master's student at IU's Jacobs School of Music. Oliveiro is creating original melodies for the few songs that are sung as part of the show and also some transition music.

"It's amazing when you work with a composer these days," Syer said. "Bits of music show up on your computer and you just click to hear it. It makes it really fun -- and also very convenient."

The central character, Rosalind, is one of the most substantial female roles in all of Shakespeare. Tackling the role of Rosalind in her Lee Norvelle Theatre and Drama Center debut is first year M.F.A. actor Kristl Densley. Mark Banik (Oklahoma! Hamlet), a senior B.F.A. musical theater student, plays her love interest, Orlando.

One recurring feature of Shakespeare's plays is the comedic touch of the appearance of a "fool." The "fool" character of Touchstone in this adaptation is a walking contradiction who is at turns silly and laughable and also a wise and careful source of instruction. Touchstone will be played by Taylor St. John, a senior majoring in theatre and drama and theater education (An Ideal Husband, Dead Man Walking, The Seagull). The large cast consists of a mix of both M.F.A. actors and undergraduates.

Jennifer Sheshko (Stop Kiss), second-year M.F.A. student in costume design, will be designing the contemporary costumes. As inspiration, she turned to pictures of Katharine Hepburn in slacks and some "gorgeous 1940's dresses."

"I can't wait for the audience to see what Rosalind wears to her own wedding," Syer said.

Rounding out the production team is scenic designer Hyunsuk Shin (Marisol and Metamorphoses); lighting designer Liz Replogle (The America Play, Dead Man Walking and Metamorphoses) sound designer Christopher Wood.

For more information about the Department of Theatre and Drama, see http://www.theatre.indiana.edu.