Goodbye, Arden hello, America
|By Meghan Spork|
MSU director puts a new spin on Shakespeare’s ’As You Like It’
Taking a Shakespeare classic in a different directorial direction, Michigan State University’s Department of Theatre presents “As You Like It” as the fall semester finale.
Director Christina Traister uproots the comedy from its typical rural setting of the Forest of Arden and transplants it to a Victorian Era carnival in America.
“The pastoral is done all the time in this country," Traister said. "I wanted to play with something different.”
“As You Like It” tells of an ex-nobleman and a group of courtiers, all of whom are living in exile as outcasts of high society. Characters fall in and out of love while the gender-bending character of Rosalind leads the way down the uncertain path to romance.
The carnival theme brings with it a new set of characters from the circus, such as bearded ladies, tattooed men, and acrobats. Traister also said that within the story, references to certain elements of the Forest of Arden setting had to be reworked for the circus backdrop.
“I was finding the concept of pastoral to represent something more,” Traister said.
This greater meaning of the pastoral setting, Traister said, really resonated with the idea of running away to the circus — a world of acceptance, revelry, and entertainment.
’As You Like It’