The free production hopes to make Shakespeare more accessible for skeptics and younger audiences alike.
For the third straight year, the Public Theater of Minnesota will bring Shakespeare to St. Louis Park when it opens “As You Like It” on Friday, July 5, at the Wolfe Park Amphitheater.
The approximately two-hour play is free and will run at 8 p.m. Friday-Sunday for three consecutive weekends, ending July 21. On Sundays the 11-person cast will perform “Shakespeare in Shorts,” a condensed 80-minute, no-intermission version of the play for Shakespeare skeptics and younger audiences.
“We want to give people a chance to experience Shakespeare in a really user-friendly way,” said Mark Hauck, artistic director for the Public Theater of Minnesota. “I think a lot of people have a hang-up; they think Shakespeare, and they think, ‘I can’t get it,’ or, ‘I’m not going to like this,’ where Shakespeare, when it’s done well, is really clear and exciting.”
As part of the event, on Saturday, July 13, Byerly’s is sponsoring the second annual Extreme Picnic Challenge, where a host of awards are given out for such categories as the best-dressed picnic party, best-themed picnic party and best gourmet food. Set-up for the Extreme Picnic Challenge starts at 6:45 p.m., judging is at 7:30 and prizes are awarded at intermission of the show.
“It started out the first year, when a neighborhood group came and did this elaborate picnic. … Last year we had everything from a picnic people picked up at the deli to a full table with silver candelabras and a linen tablecloth. Some [picnics] are really elaborate; some are really silly. It really is just a lot of fun,” said Hauck.
Suzy Kohane and Ryan Colbert play the leads of Rosalind and Orlando in “As You Like It,” and Cody Bursch composed original music for the score.
Previously the Public Theater of Minnesota performed “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” and “Romeo and Juliet” in Wolfe Park.
Ben Johnson • 612-673-4499