Westmont Offers the Bard’s ‘As You Like It’

John Blondell directing “Dido and Aeneas” in January

John Blondell directing “Dido and Aeneas” in January

Westmont College Festival Theatre presents one of Shakespeare’s most loved and popular plays “As You Like It” on Oct. 14-15 and Oct. 20-22 at 7:30 p.m. in Porter Theatre. General admission is $12; $7 for students, children and seniors. Tickets may be purchased online at westmont.edu/boxoffice.

“The play is full of remarkable language, wonderful comic situations, and familiar Shakespearean motifs about love, rivalry, redemption and the transforming effects of the natural world,” says director John Blondell, Westmont professor of theater arts. “It’s a remarkable, nearly bottomless play.  It’s also quite tricky, since what begins as an action-packed revenge and escape story, soon transforms into a series of meditations about life and love, city and country, art and nature, melancholy and happiness.  I am very excited to direct this, and impressed and inspired by our terrific company of student actors.”

Shakespeare wrote “As You Like It” in 1599, the same year he penned “Henry V,” “Julius Caesar,” and most likely a first draft of “Hamlet.”  The lyrical, moving and funny comedy features numerous memorable characters, including Rosalind, who, along with Hamlet, Falstaff and Cleopatra, is generally considered one of Shakespeare’s most complex dramatic characters.  “She has the most lines of any female character in Shakespeare and displays tremendous resources of wit and feeling nearly unmatched in the world dramatic repertory,” Blondell says.

Rosalind is the daughter of the banished Duke Senior, and early in the play falls in love with Orlando, the disinherited son of one of the duke’s friends.  Banished from the court by her usurping uncle Duke Frederick, Rosalind flees to the nearby Forest of Arden with cousin Celia and court jester Touchstone in tow, where her father and his friends live in exile.  Rosalind and Celia adopt disguises, and Rosalind disguises herself as a boy named Ganymede.  While in Arden, new friends are made, families are united, and the play ends in a fabulous coup de theatre quadruple wedding.

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Yuri Okahana provides scenery, Miller James designs costumes, Jonathan Hicks oversees lighting and student composer Jay Real offers music.

The show can also be seen in a one-night only revival in November as part of a large citywide event called Shakespeare@400.SantaBarbara.  Since 2016 is the 400th anniversary of the death of Shakespeare, Westmont joins Santa Barbara’s Lit Moon Theatre Company, the Bitola (Macedonia) National Theatre, Shakespeare’s Globe London, the Santa Barbara Museum of Art, and the Santa Barbara Arts Commission to commemorate and celebrate Shakespeare’s truly astonishing contributions to world culture.  Shakespeare@400.SantaBarbara plays at numerous Santa Barbara venues, and includes the following events and performances:

Pop Up Shakespeare:  A multi-media Shakespearean happening in unexpected spaces by Lit Moon Theatre Company, Bitola National, and Shakespeare’s Globe London on Nov. 17, at 5-8 p.m. at the Santa Barbara Museum of Art. This free event is a U.S. premiere.

Pop Up Shakespeare offers new short plays and performance pieces inspired by Shakespeare’s sonnets, performed by the Santa Bitola Theatre Company of American and Macedonian stage artists, and selected films from “The Complete Walk,” Shakespeare’s Globe London.

As You Like It: A one-night only revival of Shakespeare’s lyrical romantic comedy played by Westmont’s regionally and nationally recognized theater program on Nov. 18 at 7:30 p.m. in Porter Theatre, $12 general admission, $7 students, seniors and children.

Julius Caesar: A U.S. premiere of Shakespeare’s gripping and timely political tragedy played by the internationally acclaimed Lit Moon Theatre Company and directed by Blondell on Nov. 19 at 7:30 p.m. in Porter Theatre, $20 general admission, $15 students, seniors and children.

Antony and Cleopatra: A U.S. premier in the Macedonian language with scene-by-scene synopsis of Shakespeare’s magnificent romantic tragedy that completes the story “Julius Caesar” began, played by the Bitola (Macedonia) National Theatre, one of the most significant theatres in the Balkans, and directed by Blondell on Nov. 20, at 5 p.m. in Santa Barbara Sunken Gardens, free.