As You Like It

24Nov09

DC is fortunate to have three locations in which to consistently bask in the Bard:

1.  Shakespeare Theatre Company (STC) Sidney Harman Hall – near Gallery Place/Chinatown
2.  Shakespeare Theatre Company Lansburgh Theatre – neighbor to Harman Hall
3.  Folger Shakespeare Library – by Capitol Hill

In addition, there are countless Shakespeare productions performed at the Kennedy Center and other playhouses throughout the city during the year.

I went to Harman Hall for the first time to see the opening performance of Shakespeare’s As You Like It.

It’s a gorgeous glass-enclosed building, conveniently across the street from the Verizon Center.  This would be an ideal venue for a fabulous party with its overlooking view of busy Penn Quarter.  STC has a gallery of photos from previous productions and elaborate costumes from past productions on display.

This is one of my favorite plays because, well, it’s the original romantic comedy.  I can quote substantial portions of chick flicks such as Clueless and When Harry Met Sally, and this play shares many similar elements.  A sure recipe of movie pleasure for me is a combination of love conflicts, interesting outfits, and witty dialogue.

This adaptation is heavily influenced by glamorous Hollywood themes.  The play evolves through periods of time, taking the original language and placing scenes in eras such as Valley Forge, a Georgian plantation, and the Roaring 1920’s.  At some points, a director would yell “cut!” and a production team appeared on stage to “videotape” the scenes, run a steam machine, and prepare the actors with Starbucks and make-up.  The show builds up to the finale – a film premiere of As You Like It.  Like the Kennedy Center’s current production of A Streetcar Named Desire starring Cate Blanchett, and despite the District’s strict non-smoking policy in indoor public facilities, the actors smoked authentic cigarettes and cigars.

I forgot how many classic phrases, now considered clichés, are derived from As You Like It.  The very famous, “All the world’s a stage, And all the men and women merely players…” along with, “Neither rhyme nor reason…” are attributed to the playwright.

The actresses depicting Rosalind and Celia were terrific, using their body language as much as their words to play their roles.  The scenery, costumes, and every actor’s accent, still accurately expressed in early modern English, were tailored to the particular epoch.  It’s a really fun show that will certainly produce laughs as much from the plot devices as from the anachronisms.

To sweeten the deal with another reason to see As You Like It, the theater offers a variety of discounted tickets on its website. Discounts are available for senior citizens, military, students, and the under-35 set, all depending on the performance and date.

STC also hosts monthly Young Professional Events for those less than 35 years to socialize and economically enjoy a performance.  Tickets are usually between $10-$30.  The next event is December 3 for As You Like It, with a wine tasting of four different wines from Sterling Vintners and a facilitated behind-the-scenes discussion of the production.  What a fun way to mingle with like-minded friends while enjoying some culture!  I was impatient and couldn’t wait for the next special event, but still got a great deal and snagged $10 tickets for the opening-night performance.  I had a front row seat which is something else I’ve never experienced.  My neck ached somewhat from craning it at certain points, but it was different to watch the actors at a close angle (and see the amount of spit caused by elocution!).

I plan to eventually see a show at the STC Lansburgh Theater and Folger Theater as I continue to explore the many ways to love DC!



30 Responses to “As You Like It”

  1. 1 AG

    I had season tickets to the Shakespeare Theatre years ago. I remember it being affordable and fun. Note also that DC has the summer Shakespeare in the Park – free tickets for a fun outdoor performance.

    • Sadly, Shakespeare in the Park was cancelled last year! Now they have a series of free shows in September at Harman Hall instead of several shows at Rock Creek Park, all due to budget issues. I’ve never been to a Shakespeare in the Park event anywhere, so that would be pretty fun! I wish someone would rally to bring it back like how Screen on the Green eventually returned after it was cancelled.

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