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Bear & Co. presents As You Like It

William Shakespeare’s As You Like It, presented by Bear & Co. is one of Shakespeare’s most enduring pastoral comedies. Bear & Co. has updated the setting and select characters for a more modern context (1950s Greenwich Village), including making the Dukes female.

As You Like It’s Director Will Somers gives you a quick look at the play:

Trouble with the video? Watch directly on YouTube.

One of Ottawa’s newest theatre companies, Bear & Co. was founded by actors/writers/directors Eleanor Crowder, Will Somers, Tim Oberholzer, Anna Lewis and Rachel Eugster.  You may be familiar with several of them from their previous involvement in outdoor Shakespeare work with Salamander Theatre, where their focus was young audiences.  Starting their own theatre company has allowed them to expand their audiences as well as their repertoire - most notably their recent production of John Ford’s ‘Tis Pity She’s a Whore at the Ottawa Fringe Festival where they oversold their 60-seat venue for most of their run.

They describe their first summer production as follows:

As You Like It

Rosalind (Anna Lewis) and Duke Phyllis (Eleanor Crowder)

Banished from her uncle’s court, Rosalind seeks safety, and her love, in the Forest of Arden.  A timeless tale told with eloquence and sincerity as you’ve never seen it before.  Duke Meredith has been usurped of her throne by her sister, Duke Phyllis, and has fled to the Forest of Ardenne, where she lives like Robin Hood with a band of loyal followers.  After a chance meeting Rosalind and Orlando who instantly fall in love, separately seek safety in the forest, Rosalind, the daughter of Duke Meredith banished by her Aunt Phyllis, and Orlando to escape a plot on his his life.  Rosalind sets out with her cousin Celia, and Touchstone, the court jester. Orlando and Rosalind meet again in the forest but only one complication prevents their love from flourishing, the lovesick Rosalind is disguised as a man.  As she teaches Orlando how to woo a woman her frustration yields to high comedy in this tale of cross-dressing, mistaken identity, and love, filled with poetry, song, humor, and shrewd observations about human nature.

As You Like ItWhen asked to describe the draw of outdoor theatre, actress and core Bear & Co. member Eleanor Crowder was passionate: “Outdoor theatre in Ottawa celebrates our wonderful summer weather and the sheer beauty of performing al fresco.  The light is magical.  The air delicious.  You can’t do better to combine two passions.  Add that this play is about love and picnicing in the park:  well bring your favourite food basket and enjoy!”

Director Will Somers is realistic about the challenges presented by performing outdoors, but sees them as part of what makes the experience unique: “… you’re not in a controlled environment.  Dogs, soccer balls, children, bmx races, anything can happen in your park.  As a performer, you have to be able to know what to ignore, and what you simply can’t ignore.  And once you’ve accepted it, how do you incorporate it?  The benefit is that you have no choice but to connect, as performer and audience.  The performer can’t pretend they don’t see the audience, and the audience can’t hide in the dark without being seen.  When it goes right, it means you can keep the audience right beside you, you can get them on your team, and you can take them anywhere.”

As You Like It is directed by Will Somers, with music direction by Rachel Eugster.  It features Anna Lewis, Dyna Ibrahim, Danielle Savoie, Will Somers, Zach Raynor, Victor Pokinko, Tim Oberholzer, Nick Amott, Leslie Cserepy, Robin Guy and Eleanor Crowder.

Admission is on a Pay-What-You-Can, Pass-The-Hat basis (suggested contribution $10).

The show runs from July 4 to 27th at local parks (followed by a few indoor dates at Arts Court in August if you just can’t bear the heat!) - full details on times and locations can be found on the Bear & Co. website.

Other Media

The Production Ottawa review of As You Like It
Kisses Sweeter Than Wine (Visitorium)

(If you know of any press not listed here, leave us a comment or send us a note.)


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About Reena Belford

Reena Belford author and actress with a passion for promoting and supporting Ottawa's local theatre community. She keeps Production Ottawa's calendar (Ottawa's most complete theatre calendar) up-to-date and is a semi-regular contributor and writer.