On May 2, 3, and 4, the Hopkins Drama Association (HDA) performed the spring show Shakespeare’s As You Like It, directed by Hope Hartup and Assistant Director Graley Turner.
As You Like It follows Rosalind (Ellie Doolittle ’20) and her cousin Celia (Lexi Zyskowski ’20) after their exile from the court of Rosalind’s aunt, Duke Fernanda (Brooklynn Brockenberry ’21), into the For- est of Arden. While in the kingdom, Rosalind and Celia come across Orlando (Petey Graham ’20), who falls in love with Rosalind at frst sight. While in the forest, Rosalind, now disguised as Ganymede, a young man, and Celia, disguised as Aliena, a shepherdess, along with the court jester Touchstone (Griffn Congdon ’20), cross paths with Duke Senior (Elizabeth Roy ’20) and various other lords and characters of the forest. The play follows the humorous love story of Rosalind and Orlando, as well as those of other couples whom the audience meets along the way.
Several members of the cast greatly appreciated Hartup’s help in the process of working with the script and developing their characters. Roy (Duke Senior) said, “I’ve never had the opportunity to work on Shakespeare with Hope before. She knows so much about the process of learning and performing Shakespeare and it’s been such a great learning experience for me.” Margaret Toft ’21 (Le Belle) found that the collaborative nature of preparing a production helped her understand and enjoy As You Like It even more. She remarked, “I personally fnd it hard to read Shakespeare, but watch- ing my friends take the text and add so much more to it makes it entertaining and easy to understand.”
Many cast members of As You Like It pointed out the diffculties that come with performing Shakespeare. Congdon commented, “The most challenging part of the show was trying to fnd meaning and character in the lines Shakespeare writes. When you finally fgure it out, a bunch of other lines make sense too, and the play starts to take full shape.” Doolittle agreed with Congdon, adding, “It’s such a process because not only do you have to memorize the words, but you have to understand what it actually means.”
This production features several songs with lyrics from Shakespeare’s original text. Heading into this production, Ramey Harper-Mangels ’21 (Sir Oliver Martext) was surprised to discover the musicality involved with As You Like It: “Most people don’t think of music when they think of Shakespeare, but there are a lot of songs in As You Like It.”
The audience setup for this show is different than the typical confguration used for most Hopkins productions, with cabaret seating. Hartup described the benefts of the cabaret arrangement: “Something different about this show is that the audience is seated around tables instead of the risers. This allows the actors the opportunity to interact with the performance space in a whole new way and for the audience to enjoy the play from a new perspective.”
Zyskowski commented, “Shakespeare isn’t easy, but there’s nothing like those moments when everyone is working together and we’re able to produce something light, funny, and beautiful.”