Pittsburgh Shakespeare in the Parks marks its 10th season of presenting free Shakespeare plays in city parks by reprising its inaugural 2005 production of “As You Like It,” one of the Bard’s finest comedies which takes place in the ‘Forest of Arden’ and deals with the familiar themes of gender-disguising and mistaken identities. Free performances run Saturday and Sunday afternoons, Sept. 6-28.
Directed by local favorite Lisa Ann Goldsmith and featuring PSIP Artistic Director Jennifer Tober as the spunky female protagonist “Rosalind,” PSIP’s 10th anniversary offering will present the First Folio, using Shakespeare’s original language. PSIP promotes its own unique brand of engaging, physical classical theater outdoors in public parks, using no set except the natural environs.
“What PSIP offers our audience is so different from what we think of as ‘typical’ theater – we use the grass, trees, woods – and bring the text to life in an exciting way, often right up in the audience’s face,” Tober says. “Our style is vibrant and our language understandable; we make Shakespeare accessible to those brand new to the Bard (even tiny children) as well as seasoned theatre-goers.”
Tober, a New York transplant, started the company upon arriving in 2005. The inaugural production of “As You Like It” ran for two weekends in Frick Park in November, right before Thanksgiving. One show ended in light snow flurries.
“Pittsburgh had been missing outdoor Shakespeare, and thus I started the company – outdoor Shakespeare has been such a huge, and fantastic, part of my creative life for so many years,” Tober says.
Her professional experience includes appearances at such companies as Quantum Theatre, The REP, PICT, UnSeam’d Shakespeare, Hudson Valley Shakespeare Festival, the Shakespeare Project, and New York Classical Theatre.
“Really, nothing makes me happier than doing or seeing Shakespeare outdoors on a beautiful day – or even a yucky day. It really has been a joy to see how the company has grown over the past 10 years,” she adds.
Goldsmith and Tober are happy to be working together again, having both performed in UnSeam’d Shakespeare Company’s 2009 production of “Macbeth 3,” directed by Michael Hood. Goldsmith is fresh off playing ‘Rachel’ in Quantum Theatre’s “Pantagleize” as well as directing “The Devil’s Arithmetic” for Prime Stage Theatre.
“As You Like It is arguably Shakespeare’s finest comedy. And where better to play the Forest of Arden than in the parks of Pittsburgh? Filled with love, deception, gender reversals and laugh-out-loud comedy, “As You Like It” is a great late-summer offering for theatre-goers of all ages,” says Goldsmith.
SHOWTIMES: AYLI runs each Saturday and Sunday through September.
Sept. 6 and 7 Frick Park, Blue Slide Playground, Beechwood Blvd. & Nicholson Street, Squirrel Hill2 PM
Sept. 13 Allegheny Commons West Park, Ridge Ave & Arch St, North Side (behind the Aviary)2 PM
Sept. 14 Arsenal Park, 40th and Butler Streets, Lawrenceville, 2 PM
Sept. 20 and 21 Schenley Park, Flagstaff Hill at Frew St. 2 PM
Sept. 27 Frick Park, Blue Slide Playground, Beechwood Blvd. & Nicholson St., Squirrel Hill 11 AM & 2:30 PM (note: this is a two-show day!)
Sept. 28 Frick Park, Blue Slide Playground, Beechwood Blvd. & Nicholson St., Squirrel Hill 2 PM
Twitter: @Pgh Shakespeare