The Virginia Tech School of Performing Arts’ production of “As You Like It” opens April 23 for eight performances in Squires Studio Theatre. 

One of William Shakespeare’s best-loved comedies, “As You Like It” follows Rosalind into the Forest of Arden as she is banished from the court by her powerful and controlling uncle, Duke Frederick. Exploring the complexity of what it means to be human, the comedy unfolds with role playing, gender switching, misfired affections, and, of course, song and merriment.

Virginia Tech’s production, directed by Natasha Staley, an associate professor of voice and acting, draws its inspiration from both New York City real estate moguls and the 1969 Woodstock music festival. It explores themes of family rivalry, corporate restraints, and power structures in conflict with desirable social freedoms, acceptance of love in varying forms, and nonconformist identity ideals.

The production’s costume designer, Laura Vitale, has used costume to help express the play’s themes.

“The rich, undeserving, and rigid members of Duke Frederick’s court wear suits devoid of any vibrancy,” said Vitale, who is also a master of fine arts student in costume design. “The exiled members of Duke Senior’s court have traveled from that suit world, but have adapted themselves while embracing the explorative nature of our Woodstock-inspired forest. There are nonbinary characters, royalty, disguises, gender swaps, and a clever jester. Our costumes are mixed with Shakespearean-era elements to help root us in this story.”

Estefania “Nia” Perez-Vera, a master of fine arts student in scenography, designed a playful set using bungee cords.

“The bungee cords create a net-like effect that has the qualities of a forest — density, asymmetry, and unpredictability,” said Perez-Vera. “But the cords are also flexible in their simplicity, and therefore they become a playful tool for the actors. They are meant to be touched, to be pulled and pushed. The characters can hide in them, travel through them, and pin love poems to them.”

Performances of “As You Like It” are April 23–26 at 7:30 p.m.; April 27 at 2 and 7:30 p.m.; and April 29–30 at 7:30 p.m. All performances are in Squires Studio Theatre, located in the Squires Student Center at 290 College Avenue on the Virginia Tech campus.

Tickets and Parking

Reserved seat tickets — which are $12 for general admission and $10 for seniors and students — may be purchased online. Tickets may also be purchased at the Squires Centers and Activities Ticket Office on the first floor of the Squires Student Center or by calling 540-231-5615. Tickets will be available at the Squires ticket office beginning one hour prior to each performance.

Free parking is available on weekends and after 5 p.m. weekdays in the Squires Lot, located at the corner of College Avenue and Otey Street, in the Architecture Annex Lot on Otey Street, and in the Perry Street/Prices Fork lots. Find more parking information online or call 540-231-3200. Alternative parking is available in the Kent Square parking garage and the Farmers Market metered parking lot, both located on Draper Road. Additional downtown Blacksburg parking information is available online.

If you are an individual with a disability and desire an accommodation, please email Susan Sanders or call 540-231-5200 during regular business hours at least eight business days prior to the event.

Written by Amy Baldwin, a graduate student in directing and public dialogue in the School of Performing Arts.

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