The Curate Shakespeare
As You Like It
by Don Nigro
Directed by Dan Wirth
A comically inept acting company attempts to perform As You Like It with hilarious perseverance. The lead actor has departed for a career as a professional wrestler and the leading lady has gone, well, insane. With the Curate's encouragement and support, the last six actors attempt to perform all 33 roles. The disastrous results make for an evening of riotous laughter.
(Left to Right)
William (Sean David Worsfold ), Clown (Aviv Screwvalla)
Amiens (Tony Juodvalkis) , Celia.(Laurée Enos), Rosalind ( Holly Beaudry), Audrey (Michelle-Marie Merrick)
(not pictured) Curate ( Matt Biljanic)
Stage Manager.................. Jason Cruz
Assistant Director/Asst.Stage Manager..... Carolyn Elizabeth
Set/Lighting Designer............... Robert G. Smith
Costume Design................. Amy Frangquist
Sound Operator....................Jeng Fong
Prop Master...........................Michelle Lacey
Prop Crew.....Michelle Lacey, Octavia Brown, Keillee Sutton
Set Crew..................................Rami Zanayed
Box Office Manager.......................Michelle Lange
Publicity Coordinator.................Heidi Sullivan Lyons
Assistant Publicity Coordinator..........Sonja Thrush
Music Archivist.......................Dr. PhyllisHurt
Fight Choreographer....................The Company Dance
Special Thanks to Rodney Higginbotham and Dr. Phyllis Hurt
The play you are seeing includes scenes from As You like It; it does not include the entire text of Shakespeare's play. However, the complete story is told, so a synopsis is included for your reading pleasure.
Synopsis of Shakespeare's As You Like It______________________
As the play opens, Orlando is quarreling with his older brother, Oliver. Oliver inexplicably hates his brother and has deprived him of his inheritance and of his chances for receiving the kind of education that would best suit a wellborn young man. Oliver and the court wrestler, Charles, plot his death in a contrived wrestling match to be conducted the next day. Oliver and Charles also discuss how Duke Frederick has deprived his elder brother. Duke Senior, of his land. Duke Senior now lives in the Forest of Arden with a band of loyal followers, which includes the melancholy Jacques, while his daughter Rosalind remains at court as a companion to Frederick's daughter Celia.
Orlando defeats Frederick's wrestler, and he and Rosalind fall in love with one another on sight. When Frederick discovers that Orlando is the son of an old friend of the Duke, he vents his annoyance by banishing Rosalind from the court. Celia insists on following her and, together with Frederick's jester Touchstone, they go to the Forest of Arden. Orlando learns of his brother Oliver's plot to kill him and he takes refuge in the same woods along with his faithful old servant, Adam.
The fugitives join the outlawed Duke and his followers. Rosalind, who is disguised as a boy named 'Ganymede,' finds some verses written to her by the lovesick Orlando. Without realizing that "Ganymede" and Rosalind are the same person, Orlando confides to "him" his love for her. To test his devotion "Ganymede" offers to cure him of his lovesickness if Orlando will woo "him" as though "he" were Rosalind. Oliver, sent by Frederick to find Orlando, is reconciled with him when Orlando saves his life. Then, when he meets Celia, Oliver falls in love with her and they plan to marry the next day. Silvius, a young shepherd, desperately pursues Phebe; and Phebe falls head over heels in love with - who else? "Rosalind disguised as Ganymede. The various exiles and lovers begin to gather in the forest; each hoping to finally be with the one they love. Rosalind, however, leaves them, promising that she will return and satisfy everyone, including the deluded Orlando and Phebe. At the wedding feast "Ganymede" reveals her identity and multiple marriages follow, presided over by Hymen, god of marriage. During the festivities the news arrives that Frederick has also reformed and, having taken religious vows, has restored all lands to his brother. Duke Senior.
Theatre itself becomes the central metaphor in Shakespeare's work and is as well in some respects the central metaphor of western civilization. The Curate's decimated and bedraggled company look out into the darkness. There is no assurance that anybody is out there watching, that their desperate attempts to make a dead Englishman's old play come alive have any meaning or purpose separate from their own unreasonable desire to try. They are miscast and undermanned. Often they find the script they are trapped in nearly incomprehensible, with enigmatic, archaic jokes and tortured, impossible geography. They do not feel up to it. The task is too great. The riddle is too hard to solve. But the Curate somehow coaxes them on. A Curate is someone who cures, cares for, takes care of, and cares. He is cruel and kind, patient and relent less, tyrant and teacher, suffers with them, endures their many indignities with them, stands, in their lives, for Shakespeare and God, as they turn and stand for Orlando and Rosalind.
The actor, says Camus, is one who must lose himself in order to find himself. In one evening's performance, he makes the complete journey down the dead end path each member of the audience must take a lifetime to trace. Denied burial in holy ground through much of the Christian era (dead actors, says Voltaire, are generally thrown in the sewer), the actor gives up his soul to practice his craft. Feared and persecuted, held in contempt by religious and secular authorities alike, always at the mercy of the stupidest member of his audience, unable to defend himself from those unfortunate persons who take money to go to plays they don't want to see and to write about plays they don't likeóthe actor has made a choice, the choice that every serious artist must make, to continue his investigation into truth, his exploration in the dark, no matter what the consequences or where it might lead him, to use up every ounce of possibility in his brief time onstage, to play his action out absurdly to the end.
The Curate's people begin as a disaster, often want to quit, endure countless humiliations, make near hash of the precious holy words of the god Shakespeare, but their persistence begins eventually to approach a kind of bizarre heroism, each one, as they manage, to their considerable surprise, to stumble now and then across moments of beauty and integrity locked into the puzzle of Shakespeare's universe, to make the story work. What began as torture and humiliation evolves gradually into a kind of triumph, short-lived as it may beó all victories are temporary. Their situation is hopeless, their predicament defies explanation, they are ridiculous, but their struggle brings them a certain amount of dignity and a taste of some manner of brief salvation. They are, in short, just like us.
The lyrics of the songs are all taken from Shakespeare's As You Like It.
The music is by various composers:
What Shall He Have That Killed the Deer? - Music by Dan Wirth
It Was a Lover and His Lass - music by Thomas Rowley
Under the Greenwood Tree - music by Roger Quilter, adapted by Phyllis Hurt
Bo Blow Thou Winter Wind - music by Dan Wirth
Produced by Special Arrangements With Samuel French, Inc. At Northeastern Illinois University, Bryn Mawr and Central Park on November 7-9, 16-21, 2-23, 2002
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