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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

Shakespeare 80’s Style

As a Theatre Arts major I have had the opportunity to study Shakespeare excessively. I worked on many productions at UMB such as Romeo & Juliet and Twelfth Night. But one work of the bard’s that I never touched on is As You Like It.

Fortunately, I had the pleasure of viewing the Sun-Runner Classics’ production of the show, as directed by Shira Cahn-Lipman.

Staged in an 80s style, this particular production took place not in a theatre, but outside in Christopher Columbus Park in the North End. As I walked into the park the audience was sitting on the grass. Many had blankets, while others opted for the comfort of their lawn chairs. This relaxed atmosphere created an enjoyable viewing situation and the setting put the audience in the middle of the action.

As I plopped myself down on the grass I was wondering where the actors would be entering from, totally unaware that most of the actors were sitting right next to me. This allowed the audience to really feel involved in the show and constantly looking over their shoulders to see who would be part of the action.

UMB theatre student, Rocky Graziano, took bumbling to a new level as Silvius the lovesick shepherd. Silvius spent the majority of the play chasing after Phebe played by Daina Shatz. Graziano’s portrayal of the character provided comic relief and made me proud to see a UMB student grabbing the attention of local theatre-goers. Rick Winterson played the role of the wicked Duke Frederick, and along with Graziano the two were the strongest actors in the production.

Watching Shakespeare is incredibly difficult for most audience members. The speech is foreign to most and very hard to understand. Even a person such as myself, who has studied Shakespearean acting and Elizabethan stage, has occasional troubles understanding bits and pieces. The one good thing about this production was that the actors did a marvelous job with the language. I thoroughly understood each actor’s intentions and their emotions through the Shakespearean language.

The one downfall of the production was that it was forced to compete with the noise of the busy city. The location was beautiful, because of the ocean view, but at times it became difficult to hear the actors. It was a wonderful change from being cramped in uncomfortable theatre seats, and having the luxury of sprawling out on the grass. I recommend that people see this production of As You Like It. The show will be playing at Elliot North Park (across from the Wang Center) on September 11th at 6 p.m. and September 12th at 2 p.m.