As You Like It

As You Like It is a complex, romantic fairytale that is fun for the whole family. It is one of Shakespeare’s most popular comedies, and, in Rosalind, he has created one of his strongest female characters. Over 50 cast and crew, all volunteers, have come from all over the Lower Mainland, including Simon, whom I recruited from the blood donor clinic, for the love of Shakespeare. We have been doubly blessed to have access to the professional and creative mentorship of Stephen Drover, artistic director of Pound of Flesh Theatre in Vancouver. “Drove” has a remarkable way of making Shakespeare accessible and removing almost all sense of intimidation. In the end, after all the analysis of iambic pentameter and the “thees” and “thous”, it is a straightforward story of love and life, as relevant to audiences today as it was in the 1600’s.

To all of our partners and sponsors, we thank you for helping us to continue to bring innovative and high quality theatrical experiences to our community. One of our goals for “Bard” is to “give back” to the community and what better way than by partnering with the Friends in Need food bank at a time of year when the stock on the shelves is low but the need is still high. I thank you all for supporting this worthy organization.

Theatre BC support

Many times over the years I have sat at Theatre BC board meetings and listened to zone chairs rail on the difficulties within their zone and the problems getting people involved and the differences between clubs, etc. I'll own that I've participated in a few "railings" myself. But every once in a while, a project comes along that is so special and different, that rather than divide groups, it unites them, crossing club and zone boundaries, creating new friendships and stronger bonds. Such a project was this year's Bard on the Bandstand: As You Like It. It began as an experiment 2 years ago, when Emerald Pig Theatrical Society decided to stage a free community production of A Midsummer Night's Dream on the bandstand in Memorial Peace Park, Maple Ridge. We weren't sure if anyone would come and see Shakespeare in the park in the middle of the summer. We put out 50 chairs and hoped for the best. Then, to our surprise and delight, almost 800 people showed up! We decided this needed to become an annual event.

As You Like It was chosen as the production for 2007. Building on the success of Dream and the highly acclaimed Mainstage 2006, which was hosted in Maple Ridge, Emerald Pig received a special grant from the Arts Council, the District of Maple Ridge and the Spirit of BC Committee, to support the project. In addition, we partnered with the Friends in Need Food Bank, to help support others less fortunate in our community. Many businesses and sponsors came on board to share our vision as well. Word of mouth spread and I was soon receiving emails from actors and designers from all over the lower mainland.

But there was still a small hurdle to overcome. We needed a director. No one wanted to step forward and direct Shakespeare. No one had experience or confidence with Shakespeare. Shakespeare was hard! So I set off on a quest - to find a director - someone, some way, to help. And it came to me - Theatre BC's talent bank and the zone! Surely, there were others in our sister clubs who also felt daunted and overwhelmed by the "BARD". And so I envisioned a "master class", where directors from throughout our zone and other parts of the lower mainland could learn about Shakespeare and participate in a hands-on project, helping to bring As You Like It from page to stage in 10 weeks! My quest eventually led me to Stephen Drover, artistic director of Pound of Flesh Theatre in Vancouver. "Drove" was intrigued by the idea and agreed to help. I would be the director and he would instruct the master class, mentoring me along the way (I hoped!). The zone executive approved the project as our yearly workshop, 10 participants signed up, and we were off! Every Sunday, the master class met from noon til 5pm, analyzing sonnets, learning iambic pentameter and the intricacies of "thees" and "thous" and "whither wilt thous". Next door, I would rehearse up to 30 actors. The master class would be assigned to watch the fledgling scenes for specific things, Drove would give us feedback, ideas were discussed, and the play began to take shape. The actors became part of the process, challenged to think, interpret and question. Drove's wonderful, playful attitude, while grounded in a deep knowledge and respect for Shakespeare, reduced the fear, slayed dragons, and helped shape an inclusive and welcoming atmosphere. Throughout the rest of the weeks, different units were rehearsed throughout the city to accommodate actors schedules and, as we got closer to the performance dates, we were able to rehearse much of the play on the bandstand. On some warm, summer nights, we were outside until after 10 pm. Several master class participants came out to these run-throughs, brought their lawn chairs and cheered us on! Wrestling rehearsals were especially popular! Everyone pitched in to help wherever they could. Props were borrowed from other theatre companies, costumes materialized, an Elizabethan forest emerged and the "vision" became a reality!

On opening night, July 26, the feeling was magical! The costumes, set, lighting and sound were perfect! The actors shone and the audience was dazzled! I wanted to capture the feeling in a bottle and hold on to it forever! Two nights later, closing night, was one of the most bittersweet experiences I can remember in 22 years of theatre. The stars had aligned on over 50 cast and crew members from all over the Lower Mainland - Maple Ridge, Coquitlam, Port Coquitlam, New Westminster, Burnaby, Surrey, Langley, Vancouver, and the Red Cross Blood Donor Clinic. Over 7000 volunteer hours, an amazing team and incredible associate producer, Kathleen Hatley (who had no idea what she was in for), countless and invaluable sponsors, the master class and Stephen Drover, had come together to create a production that 3 months earlier seemed impossible. Bard on the Bandstand will become an annual community event and partnerships with businesses and the city are in the works to ensure our success. The Friends in Need Food Bank will continue to be our partner, having this year received over $500 in cash donations and 834 lbs of food. Next year, we intend to double that amount.

A smart producer/director should always strive to surround themselves with smart people. Luckily, Theatre BC has a treasure trove of smart people. I am so grateful for this experience, for the support of Theatre BC and the Fraser Valley zone, and infinitely proud of this incredible group of people and what we have accomplished. Rail on! This is truly what "community" theatre is all about.

Don't forget to mark your calendars and join Emerald Pig Theatrical Society for next year's Bard on the Bandstand, July 24 - 27 2008, The Taming of the Shrew!

Sharon Malone, director/producer, As You Like It
President, Emerald Pig Theatrical Society

As You Like It on Wikipedia

Thank You to our generous sponsors:


Maple Ridge Pitt Meadows Arts Council, District of Maple Ridge, Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows Parks and Leisure Services - Spirirt of BC Committee, P&L Speedprint, Eastridge Animal Hospital, Keller Williams - The Miller Team, TheatreBC, Warren Performing Arts Academy, Cariboo Moose Productions, Innovative Rehabilitation Services, Norampac, Westminster Savings Credit Union, Fantasy Wear Costumes, Value Village, Uptown Health Foods Inc., 95 Crave FM, Millennium Players, Stage 43, Fabricland, Roger Lantz, The ACT, SpeedPro Signs, Amanda Karrys—original art, Bodacious Baskets, Dairy Queen, Dreamscapes Gift Gallery, Haney Deli & Bistro, Haney Sewing & Sound, Photo Express, Redl Sports Distributors, Ridge Roast, Save On Foods, Sense of Style, The Stag Barber Shop, Van City, WineExpert, Jazzmatazz, Crumbs Bakery-Café, Isabelle Love, Delaney Tiedman, Andrea Humer, Triple Tree Nurseryland, Haney Market Place.

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