By Sherrie Williams, Nov. 1, 2022
Cal Poly Pomona’s Department of Theatre and New Dance put on one of Shakespeare’s classics, “As You Like It,” from Oct. 21-30. Melissa Chalsma directed the play with CPP students and alumni in the cast and crew.
The Shakespearean play follows young cousins Rosalind and Celia in the forest of Arden in search of Rosalind’s mother. Rosalind finds love at first sight with Orlando, played by David Hermosillo, CPP alumni.
Orlando decided to fight in a wrestling match because his elder brother, Oliver, stole his inheritance. He runs away to the forest of Arden because Oliver plotted to kill him after he had survived the match.
While in the forest, Rosalind is disguised as a man in hopes of getting closer to Orlando.
Rosalind and Orlando are essentially people from different backgrounds so according to Chalsma’s director’s notes, cast, crew and management discussed themes the play held for the two characters together and individually.
“Are the bonds of love stronger than fear? How do desparate people find points of connection? How is it that we become our true selves?” said the play’s program.
Sadaf Sharif, who plays Rosalind, believes the character to be smart and authentic in knowing what she wanted or hoped for in Orlando.
“She needs to be sure he will love her, and it comes from a place of insecurity needing that reassurance,” said Sharif. “I think in all of Shakespeare’s characters, she has the most, if not all, of the power.”
She had perceived Rosalind differently before going into the play. After analyzing the script to better understand the language, Sharif noticed she saw herself in Rosalind.
Sharif had never performed Shakespeare before and had to delve more into the script which differed from her previous contemporary work; saying “what’s there is kind of there.”
Rain Reaza, who plays Celia, said she felt a little intimidated being cast as one of the leads in this Shakespeare play but felt rewarded and more confident once the process of rehearsals and live performances began.
“I started realizing that it’s not really all that hard, they were just people … and it’s just a different way of speaking when you get to the humanness of it, which is the whole goal of acting. When you know what they’re saying it creates a story,” Reaza said.
Reaza sees Celia as one who’s determined, gets what she wants, ingenue yet intelligent, bright spirited and expressive.
“With Celia, her dress has a lot of cloud fabric because I feel she represents the fun nature of the court,” said Katelyn Lopez, costume designer. “She’s a strong character all in her own yet has her head in the cloud sometimes.”
When designing for the play, Lopez wanted to focus on Shakespeare’s challenge with gender and gender stereotypes and Chalsma agreed with not wanting stereotypical historical costuming. There was intent with the color being both fun and fresh but also dividing the multiple characters one actor played and the difference of main scenes of the play.
Olivia Riddle portrayed both the evil and good Duchess. The purple and dark overtones in one of her costumes helped create the illusion of a new “bad” character being introduced to the audience.
Lopez said, “We wanted to play up those ideas a lot and it just turned into what our director started to describe as ‘a pop-up storybook’ of everything being fantastical and colorful and fun.”
The “As You Like It” cast, crew and management put on a great first show this semester this past week, sending gratitude throughout to their crew and audience. The CPP community can catch “Spark” and “A Devised Play” later this semester.
Feature image courtesy of Chelsea Sutton
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