Shakespeare’s famous line that “All the World's a Stage” is proven true in the current Livermore Shakespeare Festival production of “As You Like It,” currently being performed through August 2 at the Wente Vineyards Estate Winery and Tasting Room on Tesla Road in Livermore.
Under the direction of Lisa A. Tromovitch, this classic comedy dives headlong into emotions of love, jealousy, and forgiveness. The play is exquisitely acted by Maryssa Wanlass as Rosalind, Lilian Wouters as Celia, and Joseph Salazar as Orlando.
The acting company’s new summer venue at Wente Vineyard’s Tesla Road location enhances the audience experience with its “theater in the round” approach of no scenery and few props, but offering live music and excellent costume design by Barbara Murray. One example of the production’s attention to detail occurs with the multitude of acoustic stringed instruments played by the actors as they sing and sometimes dance.
The stage consists of a small, six-sided platform with three walkways extending radially outward, like spokes in a wheel. The audience sits in the remaining area around the stage, creating an intimate atmosphere of “shared space” with the actors.
There's not a bad seat in the house, as evidenced by an occasional glance across the stage at other audience members whose wide eyes and smiles throughout the play say it all: this is an engaging performance.
One scene to watch for is when Celia is sitting on the edge of the stage listening to a conversation. She is knitting something and, wait, she is actually knitting!
It’s also worth attending the play to experience the performance of Michael Wayne Rice, who plays Jacques. Listen for some of Shakespeare’s most well-known lines as he speaks, including the famous musings on how men and women are all actors in the “All the World’s a Stage” speech. Another standout is Sean Patrick Nill, who plays the multiple roles of Amiens and Le Beau.
Before you go, if you’re unfamiliar with “As You Like It,” read a detailed plot summary on the web. An overview is offered below, but a more detailed summary will enable you to follow the story line and enjoy the play that much more.
Arrive early, buy a bottle of Wente wine, and have dinner on the winery grounds. A food booth offers wood-fired pizza and more. Bring warm clothes and a blanket since the outdoor venue can get chilly after the sun sets.
Performances are July 23 – 26 and July 30 – August 2. All performances begin at 7:30 pm. The venue’s address is 5565 Tesla Road, Livermore, CA. To order tickets, visit www.LivermoreShakes.org.
Summary: Duke Frederick has banished his older brother, Duke Senior, to the forest of Arden. Orlando, a young gentleman, also flees to Arden after being persecuted by his older brother, Oliver.
Before he leaves, Orlando falls in love with Rosalind, the exiled Duke's daughter. Rosalind falls for Orlando, after seeing him defeat the court wrestler, Charles. Rosalind lives with her cousin and best friend, Celia, who is the daughter of Duke Frederick.
Rosalind is persecuted by her uncle because she is more popular than Celia. She flees to Arden, accompanied by Celia. Rosalind assumes the identity of a boy, “Ganymede,” and Celia disguises herself as Ganymede's sister, “Aliena.” They bring along the court fool, Touchstone.
Now in Arden, the exiled Duke Senior accepts the starving Orlando into his group. Orlando meets Ganymede (Rosalind) in the forest. Rosalind decides to stay in disguise, to find out how Orlando truly feels about her.
Oliver comes to the forest to kill his brother, Orlando. Orlando saves Oliver from a lion attack, and the brothers reconcile. Oliver meets Celia and falls immediately in love with her. Touchstone falls in love with the goat herder, Audrey. A local shepherd, Silvias wants to marry the ornery shepherdess, Phebe. Ganymede promises that all will be married the next day. Attend the play to see what happens.