On a recent afternoon, the basement of the Theresa Lang Center was buzzing with activity. It was spring break, but the room was full of students, lounging on couches, or darting back and forth – anyone who chose to recline near a set of shut doors was likely to get a sharp crack in their back as they were flung open. The occasion was the final week of rehearsals for Eugene Lang College The New School for Liberal Arts’ spring theatrical production, William Shakespeare’s As You Like It. The play opens on April 4th.
“We’ve been rehearsing nine-to-five since we came back from winter break,” says Lillian Comeau, a junior at Lang, who’s playing Phebe, shouting a bit to be heard of the din of two dozen actors on a break “It’s a full-time job.”
“I love the play,” says director and Lang professor Cecilia Rubino. “It’s an important work because it demands that we think about how one generation gives the world on to the next and insists that the only way we can repair human damage and human violence is through imagination.”
While mostly remembered as a comedy, As You Like It has some electrically physical moments that Rubino is trying to accentuate. “Collaboration opens up any process and it makes it so much richer,” she continues. “I knew that I wanted a certain kind of violent physicality. I am not a fight choreographer, and to do that safely, I needed to work with choreographers, so it was a great gift to work with [fight choreographer] Corey Pinero and [choreographer] Faye Simpson. One of the most wild and fun things was to have 25 students with Faye and our composer, Peter Sachon, actually co-choreograph the final dance. I mean, people would go, ‘that’s crazy,’ but it’s actually the kind of collaboration that [Shakespeare] engaged in with his actors.”
The ordered chaos of the rehearsal will continue through the opening. Is the company ready? “Hell yeah,” says Ian Garcia, third year at Lang who’s playing a member of Frederick’s company (here transformed to Frederica). “We go hard.”