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Shakespeare Bash’d Present: As You Like It| Shakespeare in Toronto

By April 16, 2019 No Comments

This is part of an ongoing series of regional Shakespeare coverage. It’s Tori here with the latest in Shakespeare news from Toronto. Shakespeare Bash’d continues their 2019 season with As You Like It. I had the chance to chat with director, Drew O’Hara, Hallie Seline who plays Rosalind, and Jade Douris who plays Celia, about what makes this production so exciting.

Shakespeare Standard: What is it about As You Like It that drew you to the play?
DREW O’HARA (Director): Among Shakespeare’s comedies, As You Like It is his most whimsical. These characters all find themselves transformed by the beauty of Arden, and they relish in the leisure that they find there. It’s all songs, games, and debates about the meaning of life! It’s a musical, magical wonderland and I love everything about it.

SS: Why did you decide to set the play in the 1960s?
DO: In As, You Like It, Shakespeare’s greatest heroine escapes the oppression of the Court of France and thrives in the magical world of Arden. I knew I wanted to situate Rosalind in a time of opportunity and transformation. With second wave feminism, free love, and the civil rights movement (to name a few), the 1960s has given us an incredible background to build a beautiful journey for Rosalind (played brilliantly in this production by Hallie Seline) and the rest of these lovable characters. I also LOVE 1960’s folk rock, so that helps too!

SS: What about the play inspired you to incorporate so much music into the play?
DO: To me, the magic and music of As You Like It have always gone hand in hand. The Forest of Arden has an intoxication for everyone who visits and the longer we stay in Arden, the more the music draws us in. For this production, Kaleb Horn and Hilary Adams have collaborated to create a stunning score of 1960’s inspired folk-rock music that honestly blows my mind every day. Because music is so integral to Arden, I always knew the score of As You would be its own character, and now I couldn’t imagine the play without it.

SS: What can audiences expect from this production?
DO: To Laugh. I’ve never laughed so much in rehearsal. I don’t want to give too much away but I promise you have never seen a Touchstone like Lesley Robertson. The whole company is bringing the funny and keeping each other laughing, singing and having a great time. We can’t wait for people to join us!

SS: What are you most excited about?
DO: I am most excited to invite an audience into our world. It’s a wild ride!

SS: What are you most nervous about?
DO: EVERYTHING! Doing plays is very scary!

As You Like It - Hallie Seline and Jade Douris - Photo by Kyle Purcell

As You Like It – Hallie Seline and Jade Douris – Photo by Kyle Purcell

SS: Rosalind is maybe one of the most take charge and self-aware female characters in Shakespeare. What is it about Rosalind that drew you to the character?
HALLIE SELINE (Rosalind): I love that she feels completely empowered to say “wait a minute… I am strong. I am smart. I am worth it. I can do better than this.” And also to someone, she loves “this is who I am, completely. Either you take me fully as I am, or you are not for me.” She is brave and bold and uncompromising. I love that.

SS: This play also probably has the best example of female friendship in Shakespeare, how has it been working so closely with Jade Douris as Celia?
HS: It’s wonderful! Jade said something the other night in rehearsal that I loved. I have heard many people tell me how Rosalind is like the female Hamlet in terms of size of the role, but Jade said that Rosalind doesn’t have soliloquies as Hamlet does, she turns to her friend instead, she chats things out with Celia. I love that and it has been such a joy working more closely with Jade. We’ve worked together a few times, most recently as Viola (Jade) and Olivia (me) in Twelfth Night, which was a blast, but mostly consisted of me trying to get her to pay attention to me and love me back! But Rosalind and Celia are such a powerhouse pair that we really get to play with one another in the scenes. We get to challenge each other, hold each other up in heartbreak, and revel in the joyful moments together. It’s a delight.

Event Cover - As You Like It
SS: Do you see any part of yourself in the character?
HS: Rosalind is both thought-forward and heart-forward. I so identify with that. I tend to think things through quite thoroughly, but also find myself jumping heart-first into so much of life. Sometimes those are at odds, but I think it can also make for quite a beautifully full and open way to experience life. Rosalind seems to make it work!

SS: What should audiences know before coming to see the show?
HS: It’s a very relaxed and fun environment. So often people are scared of Shakespeare because it feels too intellectual or too distant. BASH’d shows are the way you want to experience Shakespeare: story-driven, with a wild and joyful energy, and in a relaxed setting where you can sit back with your friends, drink-in-hand and feel like you’re right in on the action.

SS: What are you most excited about?
HS: To share this show with our audiences every night and for them to hear the INCREDIBLE original music Kaleb Horn and Hilary Adams have made. I have been humming it to myself day and night. It’s so good!

SS: What are you most nervous about?
HS: Fitting as many people in to see this show as possible! BASH’d shows always sell out, and I want the WORLD to see this joyful show and all of these mega-talented performers, so take my word for it and buy your tickets now to avoid disappointment.

SS: Celia is a pretty assertive character in her own right, what is it about Celia that drew you to the character?
JADE DOURIS (Celia) Clarity and intention are really central pillars of the way we approach the work at Shakespeare BASH’d, so playing a character that’s so clear and so driven in her actions is really a blessing to get to work on in that rehearsal room. Her friendship with Rosalind is so beautiful, and I feel like their relationship is aspirational…she’s like a role model for how you should treat the people you love, so living inside her skin is really joyful.

SS: This play also probably has the best example of female friendship in Shakespeare, how has it been working so closely with Hallie Seline as Rosalind?
JD: Honestly, the actual best. I have always been the President of the Hallie fan club. We played Olivia and Viola together three years ago, and at one point during the run of Twelfth Night, I can remember turning to her and saying, “I hope we get to do Rosalind and Celia someday.” She’s such a supportive scene partner, she’s a clear and specific actor, and while she’s rigorous with the text, she still manages to be so playful, and when I’m working with her, I can feel it bringing those qualities out in me. I literally feel like I am a better actor when I am in plays with Hallie.

SS: Do you see any part of yourself in the character of Celia?
JD: I would say it’s more that I aspire to be like her than see myself in her! She reminds me to be patient, to listen more than I speak, and to treat the people you love with tenderness and an open heart. Celia is the best!

SS: What should audiences know before coming to see the show?
JD: I don’t want to reveal anything, because I hope you all find it as surprising and exciting as the process has been for me! It’s set in the early 1960s, framed around the beginning of second-wave feminism, and through this lens, we are discovering all sorts of lovely moments and new ways of thinking about the text.

SS: What are you most excited about?
JD: For people to hear Kaleb and Hillary’s music. We love it so much, the whole cast can’t help but dance and smile and sing whenever they play, and I just know that the audience will love it, too.

SS: What are you most nervous about?
JD: Hallie is going to make me laugh onstage, I just know it. It’s going to take every ounce of focus I have to keep it together.

SHOW DETAILS:

Shakespeare BASH’d presents:

As You Like It
by William Shakespeare
April 23-28, 2019
at Junction City Music Hall (2907 Dundas St W)

Tickets on sale now at www.shakespearebashd.com
$20 online
$25 at the door (pending availability)

Showtimes:
Tuesday, April 23 – 7pm
Wednesday, April 24 – 7pm
Thursday, April 25 – 7pm
Friday, April 26 – 7pm
Saturday, April 27 – 2pm
Saturday, April 27 – 7pm
Sunday, April 28 – 2pm

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