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As You Like It at Highland Bowl July 14–29

This summer travel from the stylish but rigid early 1960s to the free-flowing Woodstock era in a single night during performances of William Shakespeare’s As You Like It at the Highland Bowl July 14–29.

The Shakespeare Players, a program of the Rochester Community Players, presents this classic comedy, directed by Maria Scipione, to celebrate the 20th anniversary of free Shakespeare in Highland Park. Performances will run every night but Mondays, and begin at 8 p.m. each evening. An ASL-interpreted performance is scheduled for Saturday, July 22.

As You Like It

The play begins in the restrictive court of the unjust Duke Frederick, who banishes first his brother and then his niece, Rosalind, both of whom seek solace in the utopian Forest of Arden. Rosalind is known as one of Shakespeare’s greatest female characters, making a comic and romantic journey through the forest disguised as a young man, Ganymede.   

Scipione explores the play’s breakdown of hierarchies and strict gender roles by calling to mind the change in attitudes from Annette Funicello to Janis Joplin, or from Madmen to Woodstock.

As You Like It is a merry romp, inhabited by people in search of love and freedom,” Scipione said. “We combine the magical power of the forest of Arden with Woodstock — a place where Shakespeare and Jimi Hendrix find common ground.” Scipione has extensive experience acting and directing in Rochester and teaches theater at the Harley School.  

Sarah Kingsley of Rochester, a May graduate of the University of Rochester, stars as the wise-beyond-her years Rosalind.

L-R, Rob Kellogg as Orlando, Olivia Knowlden as Celia (standing), and Sarah Kingsley as Rosalind disguised as Ganymede. (Photo by Sarah Moore.)

This near-contemporary staging of As You Like It plays off the wooded appearance of Highland Park, and will employ music of the early and late 1960s, including a Jimi Hendrix style version of the Star Spangled Banner.

As in other years, jewelry artist Lisa Hoffman has created an original work to be worn by a cast member and raffled off at the final performance. This year’s creation, a necklace and earrings set featuring beaded leaves in tribute to Arden, will be worn by Olivia Knowlden, playing the role of Rosalind’s cousin and companion, Celia. Tickets for the jewelry raffle will be available at all performances.

The production is presented with the generous assistance of the New York State Council on the Arts, Monroe County Parks, and Canandaigua National Bank & Trust. Their support helps maintain Free Shakespeare in Highland Park, but additional donations are needed and sought each night at the bowl. In addition, generous souls may want to visit the As You Like It Indiegogo campaign and consider obtaining such donor perks as a letter from a major character in the play, or a picnic on the hill. Visit www.indiegogo.com/projects/as-you-like-it-at-highland-bowl-shakespeare#/ for details.

Refreshments are offered for sale every night of the production, but this year will include for the first time gourmet ice cream sandwiches by Eat Me Ice Cream. The mobile Eat Me Ice Cream bicycle is scheduled to be at all three Friday night performances.

A limited number of benches are provided each night for seating. Audience members are encouraged to bring a lawn chair or blanket and bug spray. This play is suitable for all ages.

For further information, visit http://www.rochestercommunityplayers.org/shakespeare-players/as-you-like-it-2017/

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About the author
Jamie has been performing with RCP since 2013. Notable roles include playing Helena in the ASL-English production of A MIDSUMMER NIGHT'S DREAM at Highland Bowl and Ophelia in HAMLET and ROSENCRANTZ AND GUILDENSTERN ARE DEAD. She joined the Shakespeare Players Committee in 2016.

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