William Shakespeare’s romantic comedy “The Two Gentlemen of Verona” may have been written centuries ago in Early Modern English, but this Friday, it will fly off the pages and resonate with audiences at Cal State Fullerton.
The scene is set in 1910 Italy with best friends, Valentine and Proteus, parting ways in Verona. They eventually both fall in love with the same girl: Silvia. Undoubtedly, comedy ensues.
Director Mark Ramont recently worked on the campus play “Pride and Prejudice” in fall 2016 and is a CSUF professor of directing. This marks his second time directing a Shakespeare play; his first time was in the ‘90s.
“I chose this play because of Shakespeare’s understanding of passion and desire and the impact they can have on loyalty, friendship and commitment. Shakespeare shows us how sexual desire can completely overwhelm us and make us more than a little crazy and how it can cause us to do things that harm those we love most, as well as ourselves,” Ramont said in an email.
Senior acting majors Rose Rodriguez and Eric Flores will play the parts of father and daughter, Duke of Milan and Silvia, respectively. They each play roles of opposite genders than themselves.
Rodriguez describes her role of the Duke as “kind of like a Disney parent,” such as King Triton from “The Little Mermaid” because he thinks he can control his daughter but is unaware of what goes on behind his back.
“I really wanted to play the opposite gender because I thought it would challenge me, because I haven’t played anything like that before,“ Rodriguez said. “But it’s not all about going into a deep voice and pretending I’m a man. It’s more like convincing yourself ‘I’m a man.’”
Flores said he approached the role of Silvia like any other character and thinks audiences will root for her because of her strong will and sassy personality.
“All of the characters that I’ve played here at Cal State Fullerton have been so far from me, have been unlike me at all and weirdly enough, Silvia was probably the closest to me, personally,” Flores said.
Rodriguez also feels that audiences will be able to relate to the characters above all despite the foreign nature in language of a Shakespearean play.
“Understanding the primacy of the language and communicating that to the actors has been challenging,” Ramont said in an email. “What’s been tremendous fun is coaxing the life and humor out of the material. It has required a sense of abandon and play from the acting company–being outrageous and silly, while still being truthful–and they’ve really risen to the challenge. It’s been a blast.”
“The Two Gentlemen of Verona” will be playing at the Young Theatre at the Clayes Performing Arts Center from Feb. 24 to March 12. General admission tickets are $14 and $12 for CSUF students.