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Nevada Conservatory Theatre Looks at Shakespeare Through Hipster Horn-Rims

The Nevada Conservatory Theatre at UNLV’s new production of Shakespeare’s “As You Like It” is putting a twist on the classic comedy.

Director Chris Edwards has added a modern sensibility to the play’s setting, but the language of the Bard is intact.

He told KNPR’s State of Nevada the reinterpreted play is “David Bowie meets Prince meets Cyndi Lauper meets New York hipsters.”

“As You Like It” is the story of a duke’s daughter, Rosalind, and the man who has caught her eye, Orlando. But as in all Shakespeare's stories, the course of true love does not run smooth.  Rosalind is banished from court and Orlando flees for fear of his brother.

The two meet in the forest, but Rosalind is disguised as a man.  As Edwards said, “hijinks ensue.”

The story is one of gender bending but the actress playing Rosalind, Amber Bonasso, told KNPR Shakespeare bashes both sexes equally in the play.

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“He says mean things about men and women,” Bonasso said.    

Bonasso said she drew on contemporary romantic comedies for how she relayed some of the lines from the play.

Edwards said the role of Rosalind is considered by many to be one of the best for women. He said many call it the “female Hamlet.”

The actor playing Orlando, Sam Cordes, said Edwards reminded the cast in the first rehearsal that Shakespeare’s words and themes are as relevant now as they were when he first wrote them hundreds of years ago.

“They aren’t Shakespeare’s words. They are our words,Cordes said.

Edwards said his goal is to knit together the current hip-hop culture with the world of Shakespeare. He said today's artists should know Shakespeare.

“Study the masters so you can remix the masters,” Edwards said.

The play runs through Dec. 13 at the Black Box Theatre


Chris Edwards, director, Nevada Conservatory  Theatre

Amber Banasso, 'Rosalind' 

Sam Cordes, 'Orlando'

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