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The Daily Register - Harrisburg, IL
  • Shakespeare on Harrisburg Library lawn

  • Shakespeare's much celebrated pastoral comedy “As You Like” It will be performed for free 6 p.m. Monday on the lawn of Harrisburg District Library.
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  • Shakespeare’s much celebrated pastoral comedy “As You Like” It will be performed for free 6 p.m. Monday on the lawn of Harrisburg District Library.
    A Carbondale traveling Shakespeare group, Stone Soup Shakespeare, will be in Harrisburg performing the play. The company tour will stop at 10 locations from Paducah, Ky., to Chicago. One of the group is a Harrisburg native, Laila Abdo. The Shakespeare Reading group of Shakespeare readers meeting at Southern Illinois libraries is the sponsor.
    Nearby Shawnee National Forest could just as well be the setting for the performance.
    “As You Like It” is a pastoral play and as scholar Felix E. Schelling says, “the spirit of Robin Hood rules in this forest.” While this merry band of exiles doesn’t steal from the rich and give to the poor, like Robin Hood they are exiled and must make a life for themselves in the unfamiliar world of the forest. Stone Soup Shakespeare co-founder and Artistic Director Julia Stemper says “we have wanted to take on ‘As You Like It’ since we first started the company. What better way to connect with the part of our mission dedicated to doing theater out-of-doors than by doing a play that celebrates country life.”
    Stemper says the plays are as timely now as they were in the 17th Century.
    “We perform Shakespeare because the stories are timeless; they speak to the human condition and we think live performances bring people together,” she said.
    The actors rehearse in Carbondale and some are international, but this year all the cast is American. One actor, Jeffrey Golde, is from New York City.
    This year’s director Eric Mercado joins Stone Soup Shakespeare from New York City and brings with him a rich background in devising new works, ensemble direction and working with classical material. He holds a BFA from New York University Tisch where he focused mostly on writing, directing and creating new pieces. His extensive experience in production and touring includes serving as staff director with Aquila Theatre’s national tour of “Macbeth” and “The Importance of Being Ernest.”
    Jeffrey Golde, Stone Soup’s Executive Director says, “Mr. Mercado’s skills will be a true asset to Stone Soup’s production this year. His ability to tell new stories with a group of actors and his respect for the stories Shakespeare has written will enhance our mission to create Shakespeare productions as if the stories were being told for the first time.”
    “As You Like It” is one of Shakespeare’s best-known comedies, loved for it’s pastoral nature and familiar themes of love, disguise and power.
    Page 2 of 2 - Duke Senior has been banished by his usurping brother Duke Frederic and taken up camp in the Forest of Arden. His daughter Rosalind has been allowed to stay with the new Duke's daughter Celia but soon she finds herself banished as well. The two young girls decide to run away together. To make their travel safer Rosalind disguises herself as a man, Ganymede, while Celia poses as a girl, Aliena. In their company is also the clown Touchstone.
    Before leaving court Rosalind and Orlando, the youngest son of a deceased noble, fall in love. Orlando must also flee court after he unexpectedly defeats the usurping Duke's wrestler Charles.
    Unbeknownst to each other, Rosalind and Orlando separately run to the Forest of Arden, now home to the former Duke. Here they encounter local peasants including the shepherd Silvius, who is in love with shepherdess Phebe.
    Complication arise when Rosalind's disguise as Ganymede leads Phebe to fall in love with her. Confused romance and adventure eventually lead to love, redemption and multiple marriages.
    The cast includes: Laila Abdo (Silvus/Jaques/Charles), Marissa Ford (Phebe/LeBeau), Ian Geary (Duke Frederick/Duke Senior), Nicole Goeden (Celia), Ben Schlotfelt (Orlando), Julia Stemper (Rosalind), Quinton Sledge (Oliver/Amiens) and Emily Thompson (Touchstone/Audrey/William/Hymen).
    In addition, Mercado will direct Stone Soup Shakespeare’s first new work, a 10-minute newly written production to be presented before the start of “As You Like It.” “The Green Show,” as it is called, will be created from the winner of a juried 10-minute playwriting competition sponsored by Stone Soup Shakespeare. The winner is still to be determined.
    In keeping with the spirit of the children’s story, Stone Soup, from which the company takes its name, audience members are encouraged to bring non-perishable food items, which will be collected and donated, to local food banks in the tour region. In addition to bringing food to donate The actors also encourage audiences to bring their own picnics to share with their friends and family while sharing in the evening of entertainment and community.
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