As You Like It On Stage at Fresno State

Nov 27, 2019 | 2019 Articles, Education, Lorie Lewis Ham, Theatre

by Lorie Lewis Ham

Fresno State University Theatre presents Shakespeare’s As You Like It next week. KRL took a moment to chat with the show’s director Kathleen McKinley about the show.

KRL: Why did Fresno State University Theatre choose this particular play?

Kathleen: Our goal is to expose our students to several specific genres in our season over the course of two years, ranging from Shakespeare to cutting edge new plays to ethnic theatre to musicals. As You Like It has wonderful acting roles, and an especially strong female lead. As a romantic comedy, As You Like It is a great choice for our December slot.

KRL: For anyone isn’t familiar with it, can you briefly describe the plot of the play?

Kathleen: The usurping, tyrant Duke Frederick, has banished his brother, Duke Senior and his associates. When Orlando, an orphaned youth, beats the Duke’s champion in a fight match, Orlando must also flee the enraged Duke Frederick, as well as Orlando’s cruel older brother. The paranoid Duke Frederick next banishes young Rosiland, daughter of the exiled Duke, who flees, disguised as a man, with her dear friend and daughter of Duke Frederick. All arrive in a secluded forest and are welcomed by the happy exiles and the peaceful, lusty locals. Romance, music, gender reversals, wild disguises, free love, all that comes naturally, ensue in the forest!

R. L. Preheim in “As You Like It”

KRL: Did you modernize the play like some theatre companies do?

Kathleen: I am not sure “modernize” is quite the word for my directorial concept and adaptation of this play. Because so many of the issues in the play seem very 2019-the rise of strong-men type tyrants, the expanding gender boundary definitions, exiles fleeing oppression-I have set the play in the present and changed the order of some scenes, but retained Shakespeare’s wonderful language. Shakespeare’s As You Like It juxtaposes two worlds: an unjust court and the serene Forest of Arden. The court is a place of injustice, betrayal, violence, and societal restriction. The other world is peaceful forest where people are ruled only by nature and the changing seasons. They are free to explore love and true identity. I have replaced the court with a high tech sports club, Frederick Fitness. The Forest of Arden should remind you of a northern California redwood forest inhabited by welcoming, hippie, herb farmers.

Anthony teNyenhuis in “As You Like It”

KRL: Are there any special challenges to directing this play?

Kathleen: Large cast shows are always an exciting challenge! The cast of 24 includes 22 students, many making their University Theatre debut. The rehearsals have been a great opportunity to provide students training in understanding and acting the language of Shakespeare. The show also includes video, live musicians, dance, and two original songs, one of which I composed. Through costumes, lights, set, and sound, our talented design team is working hard to create the two contrasting worlds: the fast-paced sports club and the serene forest.

KRL: Anything else you would like to add?

Kathleen: Above all, As You Like It is about overcoming adversity. The exiles are forced on a journey they did not want nor choose, but on that journey, through courage, they find truest happiness in the power of human love and community!

As You Like It runs December 6 -7 & 10 – 14 @ 7:30 p.m. and December 8 @ 2:00 p.m. The performances take place in the John Wright Theatre at Fresno State located in the Speech Arts Building, 5201 North Maple Avenue, Fresno.
Fresno CA 93740-8027 .
Tickets are:
$17 – Adults
$15 – Faculty, Staff, Alumni, Military, Seniors
$10 – All Students
They can be purchased online or at the door.
Parking is relaxed for Friday – Sunday performances. A parking permit is needed for Tuesday – Thursday night performances and can be purchased at any parking permit dispenser.

If you love local theatre, be sure to check out Mysteryrat’s Maze Podcast, which features mysteries read by local actors. You can find the podcast on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, and Google Play, and also on Podbean.

Check out more theatre reviews & other local entertainment articles in our Arts & Entertainment section.

Lorie Lewis Ham is our Editor-in-Chief and a contributor to various sections, coupling her journalism experience with her connection to the literary and entertainment worlds. Explore Lorie’s mystery writing at Mysteryrat’s Closet.


Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.