The USD Theater Department will be putting on Shakespeare’s “As You Like It” starting on Sept 28. This event will take place in the Knutson Theatre, until Oct. 1.
Graduate student Jeffrey Larson is directing the show. Larson works with a company in Sioux Falls called the Bare Bodkins Theater Company and has done well a dozen shows. This play will serve as Larson’s thesis project in directing for the Master of Fine Arts program.
“Every year, the graduate directors compile plays they are interested in performing,” Larson said. “We pitch the shows to the faculty, and then they decide what is best for me and my growth as an artist, educator and also what will be best for the student population.”
The show follows cousins Rosalind and Celia. After Rosalind is banished from the court, she and Cecilia flee and find refuge in the Forest of Arden. There, the characters take on new identities, and hijinx ensues.
The play includes many scenes, characters and typically runs on the longer side, around three hours.
“I did cut the script down. Normally it would be around three hours; I cut it down, so it would fit in a two-hour block of time,” Larson said.
Larson said he wanted to keep the production accurate to the source material but did make changes such as where and when the play takes place.
“I’m setting it in Sioux Falls, South Dakota in 1934, in the midst of the great depression,” Larson said. “1934 also saw a lot of escapism in that time, so that’s something I’m really interested in pursuing with this production.”
So far, the play has been coming together on schedule for its first showing on Sept. 28. The cast is working hard and making the production run as smoothly as possible Larson said.
“Everything came together really cohesively in a cohesive production,” Larson said. “I’m very happy with where it’s at. We’ve been able to see how the show has been progressing.”
Auditions for USD plays are open to all USD students, and roles are not limited to only theater-majoring students.
Sophomore Brooke Hilding is the only actor who is not a theater major; Hilding is double majoring in English and musical arts. Hilding will be playing the roles of Lord Amiens, Le Beau, Dennis and Hymen.
Although she is not involved with the theater department, Hilding is familiar with drama and how a show runs.
“In high school, theater was all I did. All four years, I was obsessed with doing it, so going into college, it was also something I wanted to participate in,” Hilding said. “In the audition, they encourage anyone who wants to try out to try out.”
Logan Kehoe is a senior musical theater major who is also in “As You Like It.” He will be playing the part of Orlando in the play.
“Typically, I don’t go in with a part that I’m really set on,” Kehoe said. “I just want to be involved in a show no matter what. It was definitely a very happy surprise getting Orlando.”
Considering the source material being Shakespeare, the actors have found it to be coming together surprisingly well, Kehoe said..
“Everyone seemed like they got it really quickly. It was a surprise to me how engaged everyone was especially since it was Shakespeare,” Kehoe said.
Tickets are free for all USD students and are available at the box office Monday through Friday from 12 p.m. to 5 p.m., and also on show days from 12 p.m. until the show.
“I think this play is for everyone. We’re inviting the audience in, and we want people to understand what we are saying,” Larson said. “Whether you love Shakespeare, never encountered Shakespeare or you disliked him in high school, this show is still for you.”
Photo Credit: Submitted | The Volante