Arden/Everywhere: The As You Like It Project

By Andrew Andrews

Baruch’s Arden/Everywhere uses Shakespeare to shed light on the lives of refugees around the world. Original photo by Russell Rowland.

As we’ve said before, New York loves Shakespeare. And the best thing about the city’s love for The Bard is that theater companies here find ingenious ways to make his historic plays fresh and exciting. We were absolutely thrilled by Dzieci Theatre’s MAKBET, and although New Feet Productions’ Arden/Everywhere doesn’t take place in a shipping container, the set does have a similarly-industrial feel, thanks to its reinterpretation of Arden Forest (from Shakespeare’s As You Like It) as a refugee camp.

The similarities don’t stop with the set, however, as the refugee characters in modern Arden are not unlike the “gypsies” performing MAKBET: far from home and making due with what’s available. But Arden/Everywhere is more than just an old play in a new setting: as the title suggests, it’s an exposé of what it means to be an expat, complete with interstitial explanations by cast members about their own experiences as immigrants, and a table full of informational pamphlets about director Jessica Bauman’s “As You Like It” Project. Which is not to say that this entire production is nothing more than an elaborate scheme to raise awareness of the hardships of immigration; rather, the topic provides the uniquely interesting angle to make this interpretation more than just another tired recital from an overdone repertoire. The entire cast does a fantastic job with their roles, each actor occasionally delivering lines in their native tongue, reminding the audience of America (in general) and New York City (specifically)’s valued status as a melting pot of both people and culture. And although the cast is too large for us to sing our praises for everyone on stage, we’d be remiss not to commend Indika Senanayake for filling so many roles—Adam (the old servant), La Belle (the gossip) and Phoebe (the shepherdess)—with the kind of stereotypical Shakespearian melodrama that can’t help but bring a smile to your face.

Arden/Everywhere is more than just a college theater’s production of a classic tale—it’s a professional adaptation that sets itself apart from the many repertory companies that bring Shakespeare to the masses across our city every year. So check it out, then come back and tell us whether Arden was performed as you like it. Whether or not you feel the show breathes new life into an old classic, your reviews help others decide whether they should attend, and your ratings help us help you find events and activities you’ll love!


Andrew Andrews attended Arden/Everywhere: The As You Like It Project at Baruch Performing Arts Center in Manhattan on Thursday, October 12, 2017 @ 7:00pm to write this review.