Studio 58 shines a light on refugee crisis with new play

As You Like It is playing at Langara College until Oct. 14, with a new twist on an old play.


Reported by Danica Walker

Sourcing props and designing an elaborate set were just some of the issues Studio 58 faced in their modern rendition of Shakespeare’s As You Like It, set in a refugee camp.

The Shakespearean comedy centres around a group of people living in exile in a French forest. Though Studio 58’s production of the play has the same language as the classic version, it steps away from its conventional setting.

Finding a link between modern events and the play

The director, Michael Scholar Jr. saw a correlation between the current refugee crisis and Shakespeare’s script and attempted to address these issues throughout the play.

Evan Rein (left) as William and Teo Saefkow as Touchstone in Studio 58’s As You Like It. Photo by David Cooper

“I couldn’t help but see the current migrant crisis and the refugee crisis as a parallel to the story that, 500 years ago, Shakespeare was writing about,” Scholar said.

While trying to include not only the actors, but the audience into the design of the refugee camp, the studio faced challenges sourcing and creating the set.

Theo Bell, a fourth-year student and props manager said many of the props needed to be hand-made.

“One of the challenges we found was finding the pieces that looked the part but were also able to be broken down,” Bell said. “One of the ways we kind of dealt with that issue was by having things being hand-made.”

The look of the original theatre changed for the play

Michelle Morris, who plays Celia in the play says the director has changed the original theatre to look like a refugee camp.

“He has taken what is a newly outfitted theatre as of this past summer and completely torn it down to its bare minimum,” Morris said.

The crew and the director wanted to use the play as an art form to raise discussion among the audience.

“What the audience walks away with is of course up to them,” Scholar said, “I hope this promotes an interesting discussion about the current migrant crisis but also what art can do and how art can be a vessel in a container for various different messages.”

Showings of As You Like It continue until Oct. 15.

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