For our second interview with the cast of the ARTS play As You Like It, let’s hear from the talented Dr. John W. Campbell, who handles two roles in the show.
Q: Tell us about Shakespeare’s As You Like It.
John: Good guys / bad guys, good girls / bad girls, nobles and fools, courtiers and commoners, even a Greek god, all thrown together as love conquers all. It is a comedy, but not without some very deep moments. The language is elegant, the slapstick funny, and the characters recognizable on today's streets, which segues nicely to the next question.
Q: How does the show relate to modern-day audiences?
John: Shakespeare's brilliance lies in part in his ability to portray humans that stand outside any one era. The words are from his time, and yet the characters can be seen in Kroger’s. Love, loyalty, treachery, friendship: these are found in every era, in every culture, quite possibly in each of us. Then there is the continued influence of his language, his ability to turn a phrase, on our use of English in the 21st century. We continue to be in his debt.
Q: Tell us about the character you play or your position on the crew.
John: I have the privilege of playing two characters who are brothers. As the play opens, Duke Frederick has usurped his brother Duke Senior. The elder duke has chosen exile in the Forest of Arden, and in relinquishing power finds freedom, while the younger duke finds himself slave to his position of power and distrustful of all. Some of the fun for me, and hopefully for the audience, is in jumping from one duke to the other in back-to-back scenes.
Q: What's your background in theatre?
John: I've been privileged to be involved in several shows at ARTS in the past couple of years, and was active in community theatre in the Lexington, KY, area before moving here.
Q: Tell us about the cast.
John: It's big. It's bold. It's funny (except maybe Duke Frederick). While we all take Shakespeare seriously, we have a lot of fun exploring his humor in the situations he has contrived.
Q: Why did you want to be part of this show?
John: First, because it was Shakespeare. Second, my friends at ARTS were the ones doing it. Third, it was an opportunity to be under the direction of Mike Murdock.
Q: Why would you recommend this show?
John: We are surrounded by too much that is trite, that celebrates crassness, that pulls down the human spirit. Shakespeare holds out a reminder that there are things in this world that are noble, that call us to richer lives. How often does modern pop culture "Find tongues in trees, books in the running brooks, sermons in stones, and good in everything?" Yes, Shakespeare can be bawdy, with the sensibilities of a different era, and yet even then it is not at the expense of others. It is worth the (quite low) ticket price just to hear Robert Hutchens' delivery of "All the world's a stage," easily the most familiar passage from this play. Take advantage of this timeless literature, memorably presented, right here in Huntington. You'll have a good time.
Q: And how do you like it?
John: I like it very well.
As You Like It by William Shakespeare will be presented at the ARTS Renaissance Ballroom at 900 8th Street in Huntington on Jan. 22, 23, 28, 29 and 30 at 8 p.m. Tickets are $15 for the show only, and $30 for dinner and show - for dinner, you must make a reservation by calling 304-733-2787.