Seattle Shakespeare Co.'s 'As You Like It' opens June 1
Seattle Shakespeare Company's new artistic director, George Mount, directs the Bard's comedy "As You Like It," being staged June 1-24, 2012. The show closes the SSC season.
Seattle Times theater critic
'As You Like It'By William Shakespeare. Friday-June 24, Seattle Shakespeare Company at Center House Theater, Seattle Center; $15-$40 (206-733-8222 or www.seattleshakespeare.org).
"I have gained my experience," declares the philosophical character Jaques in William Shakespeare's "As You Like It."
That line also befits Mercer Island native George Mount, the new artistic director of Seattle Shakespeare Company and director of its final show of the season, "As You Like It."
Mount was already right at home at SSC when he took the top job in January. He'd been acting director of the theater since the previous summer, after longtime artistic director Stephanie Shine departed.
He has also acted and directed with distinction for the company and has run its touring and outreach program. And in 2008, the touring Shakespeare outfit he co-founded, Wooden O, merged with SSC.
The versatile Mount says he's committed to the theater's ongoing touring to parks and schools, relying on local talent and offering articulate versions of the classics — not just those by Shakespeare.
"I have a passion for that connection between classical work and contemporary audiences," Mount says. "I want to further and expand a dialogue about the way these great plays can inform our past, and help give us a direction to the future."
Encouraging veteran SSC stage artists to take part in that dialogue is another goal. Mount says he's excited about the continued relationship with frequent directors Sheila Daniels, John Langs and Russ Banham. Many of the actors lined up for "As You Like It," and for Wooden O's summer tour ("The Winter's Tale," "Twelfth Night") are also local regulars.
In the 15-member cast of "As You Like It," Hana Lass and Nathan Smith play the lead romantic couple, Rosalind and Orlando. Darragh Kennan is the antic Touchstone, and David Pichette is Jaques.
"I've produced the play for Wooden O but never directed it," Mount notes. "Now is the time ... I've had a lifelong difficulty dealing with big changes, personal and professional. And a theme that runs strongly through this romantic comedy is change — resisting it, dealing with it, embracing it."
The coming SSC season reflects no big shifts. Like Shine, Mount is making Shakespeare's canon "our cornerstone," but open to adding other classics that "influenced Shakespeare's writing, or influenced by his writing."
That's a wide berth. Recently, SSC mounted George Bernard Shaw's "Pygmalion" at Seattle Center Theatre (formerly Intiman Theatre). In the 2012-13 season, Henrik Ibsen's proto-feminist "The Doll's House" is slated for SSC's regular venue, the cozy Center House Theatre.
Next season opens with "Antony and Cleopatra" in the former Intiman digs — a hall Mount hopes to use on occasion but has no interest in taking over full time.
"Antony and Cleopatra" is one of a handful of Shakespeare texts SSC has not yet staged. Also up in 2012-13: the Bard's "Love's Labours Lost" and "The Taming of the Shrew."
Mount jokingly calls it "the lovers and other strangers season. Every play has a battle of the sexes theme."
Misha Berson: email@example.com