Wheaton Park District and Wheaton College’s Arena Theater team up to present two free evenings of Shakespeare in the Park with the light-hearted “As You Like It.” The park opens at 6 p.m. Friday and Saturday, Aug. 23 and 24, for seating and concessions, with the performance at 7 p.m. in Memorial Park, 208 W. Union Ave., Wheaton.
The show features Wheaton College alumni, many of whom have acted professionally, as well as current students. Theater professor Mark Lewis will direct.
The DuPage County Historical Museum will sell light concession fare, soda and water as a fundraiser for the museum.
“A few years ago, I started batting around the idea of doing a show in Memorial Park to bring theater out into the community, and the Shakespeare in the Park model was at the forefront of my mind,” said Andy Mangin, technical director of Arena Theater.
He notes that Mike Bernard, executive director of the Wheaton Park District, enthusiastically got behind the idea, offering Memorial Park as the venue.
Mangin says the challenges of doing theater al fresco — lighting, sound, the elements — are all worth it to experience the magic of outdoor theater: “Shakespeare was intended for the masses, to be accessible, but sometimes his work gets locked in closed rooms. We’re excited to bring it out into the community to reinvestigate it. Plus, this play takes place in the Forest of Arden. It’s a lot easier to imagine a forest when you turn around and there’s an actual tree behind you.”