Barefoot Theater Company Presents William Shakespeare’s As You Like It
Summit Rock at Central Park
June 2-4 and June 16-19
New York, NY, April 1, 2016: Barefoot Shakespeare Company is pleased to announce the first show of its fourth season, As You Like It. All shows will be performed at Summit Rock in Central Park and admission is free.
Barefoot Shakespeare Company was formed three years ago by Rob Sniffin, Emily Gallagher, and Courtney Moors. The company seeks to bring Shakespeare’s work to a wide and diverse audience with a pedestrian, engaging, and modern outlook on the works of the Bard. Company members strive to create work that is grounded, accessible, and applicable while approaching all of Shakespeare’s texts with energy, enthusiasm, and excitement.
On June 2nd-4th and June 16th -19th, Barefoot will present As You Like It against the backdrop of New York City during the Great Depression. Shedding the opulence of the court for the Hooverville of Arden, Rosalind, Orlando, and their co-mates explore the nuances of passion and classism in a pre-war setting. Word play, music, and a couple of classic clowns make this one of Shakespeare’s best-loved comedies. Nectar News sat down with Artistic Director of Barefoot Shakespeare Company, Rob Sniffin, to learn more about the goals for the production and the company’s first collective experience taking on As You Like It.
NJ: Is this the first time Barefoot is taking on As You Like It? If so, what inspired this pick?
RS: This is our first time as a company exploring this piece, though I have worked on it before. I think any production of “As You Like It” has at its heart the exploration of ideas and emotions through words. We have several particularly verbose characters that bandy about ideas until they get down to an understanding of each other, and so part of the fun for us is making the language connected and active for the audience. Further, as one of the most rustic of the plays, it works well at our location on Summit Rock. It’s important to take our design into account when dealing with a play; normally a company would be working with a set designer to craft the look of the world (along with costumes, choreography, and music), but since the Rock is in place, we draw ideas from it. That limitation mirrors the freedom we have in using Shakespeare’s verse and prose to find new ways to relate to the language.
NJ:How is the text relevant to today’s society? Why is this story important to tell in today’s world?
RS: I am of the belief, drawn from Harold Bloom’s conclusion that Shakespeare created the modern world, that they remain relevant as long as human nature continues its back and forth. Particularly in this play, we examine how men and women are different, how they’re the same, and what joy that union can bring, be it through love, friendship, or family relationship. Although many of the jokes and references have passed out of vernacular, the heart of the questions these characters ask each other ties so closely to the struggles of a modern world. We may not find a definitive answer here, but we likely find a hundred new questions to examine ourselves within.
NJ: What message do you imagine your production will offer to the audience?
RS: “As You Like It” is a play about becoming. We see many characters, particularly our hero, Rosalind, in states of transition and shifting. Figuring out who you are, what one’s place is in a broader community, and how to get to where you want to go figuratively and literally, are all continually relevant. We see ourselves in these people despite their oft outrageous circumstances; and in that truth we find time to laugh, maybe to cry, and to continue connecting us to each other and the heart of the human experience.
As You Like It is directed by Emily Gallagher and the cast includes both Barefoot alumni and newcomers: Charles Baker, William Bednar, Christopher Berghoff, Collin Blackard, Cameron Clarke, Brooke M. Haney, Robin Johnson, James Kivlen, Courtney Moors, Annabelle Rollison, Leighton Samuels, Rob Sniffin, and Vanessa Wendt.
All shows will take place at Summit Rock in Central Park on the following dates and times: June 2nd at 6 PM; June 3rd at 6 PM; June 4th at 4 PM; June 16th at 6 PM; June 17th at 6 PM; June 18th at 4 PM; and June 19th at 4 PM. Admission for all performances is free.
For more information, see Barefoot Shakespeare Company’s website, www.barefootshakespeare.org.