This month, Shakespeare’s 400th birthday is being celebrated across the globe.
For the occasion, Theater Emory has created several programs over the year dedicated to Shakespeare – and this week, they are doing a grand experiment. Professor Jan Akers is directing an all-female cast of “As You Like It,” and professor Tim McDonough is directing an all-male cast of the same play.
“So we were interested without any particular agenda about the gender differences to see how the plays would speak differently to audiences given an all-male cast and an all-female cast,” explained McDonough in an interview with Lois Reitzes.
The two versions of the play have been rehearsed separately, so the productions promise to have many staging differences. Their common thread is the setting.
“We decided that we would set the Forest of Arden in the Nevada desert at the Burning Man festival,” Akers said. “We did that because Burning Man is a really exciting experiment ... and it’s a performative atmosphere that make sense with Shakespeare’s self-conscious nod in the play that we are in the theater.”
The two versions of “As You Like It” run through Sunday, April 10 at the Mary Gray Munroe Theater at Emory University. The all-male production performs April 7, 9 and 10 at 7 p.m. The all-female production performs April 6 and 8 at 7 p.m. and April 10 at 2 p.m.