Romance. Comedy. Drama.
The Cal Poly Pomona community can expect all of this and more at the Southern California Shakespeare Festival’s performance of William Shakespeare’s “As You Like It,” debuting in September.
For its 12th season, the Southern California Shakespeare Festival (SCSF) has partnered with Guest Director Stephanie Courtney of Fortune’s Fool Productions in Dublin, Ireland to recreate one of Shakespeare’s most beloved comedies at Cal Poly Pomona.
“As You Like It” tells the story of a woman named Rosalind who is banished to the forest of Arden. She has secretly fallen in love with Orlando and courts him by pretending to be a man giving him advice about love. Another woman named Phoebe, who is unaware that the disguised Rosalind is actually a woman, in turn falls in love with her. The love triangle blossoms into a confusing mess of relationships and false pretenses that makes for comedic gold.
SCSF was started by Cal Poly Pomona Theatre Professor Linda Bisesti to give students professional experience in theatre before they graduate.
“I wanted the students to have a professional credit on their resumes doing Shakespeare because there’s an enormous amount of work being done outside the world of Cal Poly Pomona doing Shakespeare theatre,” says Bisesti. “I think that actors that are trained in language and know how to tell different narratives have a leg up.”
Although the festival doesn’t kick off until the fall, the company is presenting Shakespeare Abridged, a production of assorted Shakespearean works, in the Studio Theatre Friday, May 27 and Saturday, May 28. The event is a fundraiser for the festival.
The SCSF company includes Cal Poly Pomona students, alumni and student interns from local high schools and works with members of the Actors Equity Association (AEA), a professional actors’ union. In addition to acting, theatre students also help with set design and production.
Clayton Fournival, a theatre student who is graduating in June, is the technical director and the lighting designer for SCSF. He oversees the collaboration of the scenic, costume, makeup and sound designers.
“I have a very experienced team,” says Fournival. “I trust my team fully. Having a team so solid allows me to be kind of hands off. I’m like the go-between.”
This year’s cast is the largest yet, with about 30 students, interns and guest actors. The interns are students from the School of Arts and Enterprise in Pomona and Mayfield Senior School in Pasadena.
“They bring in so many students from other campuses, so you really get an insight of how their training program translates into this program. You get to work with each other and they provide so much insight,” says Andrew Garcia, a fourth-year theatre student playing the character of Silvius. “It’s really neat because there’s that sense of professionalism, but it also feels like a family, so it’s really nice how it unites that and allows for professionals, students and instructors to all come together to make a production.”
A preview of “As You Like It” opens at Cal Poly Pomona on Sept. 8 before traveling to the partner schools for several shows.
The production will be performed on Sept. 9 and 10 at the School of Arts and Enterprise, on Sept. 16 and 17 at the Mayfield Senior School and on Sept. 24, 25, and 30 and Oct. 1, 2, 7, 8, and 9 at Cal Poly Pomona’s Studio Theatre. A fundraising gala and reception will take place immediately after the performance on Sept. 24.
Tickets are extremely limited and sell out quickly, so SCSF recommends purchasing tickets early.
Tickets also are available for SCSF’sShakespeare Abridged this weekend. Dinner starts at 6:30 p.m. and the show begins at 8 p.m
For more information about the Southern California Shakespeare Festival and to purchase tickets, visit https://www.cpp.edu/~scsf/index.shtml.