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As You Like It Benefit
October 11, 2005

In response to Hurricane Katrina and the devastation it caused in New Orleans, and elsewhere on the Gulf Coast, the Calvin Theatre Company decided, quite literally, to act.

The company will give a benefit performance of its fall play, Shakespeare's As You Like It, at 7:30 p.m. on November 9 in the Gezon Auditorium at Calvin College.

The play will be preceded by a dessert reception at 6:45 p.m. and the cost is $30 (tickets are available at the Calvin Box Office). All proceeds for the event will go to Christian Reformed World Relief Committee's (CRWRC) Katrina relief efforts.

Calvin communication arts and sciences professor Debra Freeberg, the play’s director, got the inspiration for the benefit from a garage sale her daughter gave to raise money for the Salvation Army’s Katrina relief.

"The enormity of the issues and the situation can seem overwhelming," she says, "but I saw how my daughter could help a few kids buy some new toys or get a few things for school. I think that as Christians, we can't solve the enormous problems, but we can make a difference in people’s lives."

Freeberg's colleagues are enthusiastic about the benefit concept.

"We were already mounting a production in our community," says Freeberg. "Adding an extra performance doesn't add a burden of extra cost to the college, so the money that's raised can really go to the people who need it."

As You Like It, one of Shakespeare's most celebrated comedies, is the story of motley group of characters who retreat to the forest to escape a tyrannical government. Freeberg has set the play in the American colonial frontier of 1790.

Though a Shakespearean romp doesn't necessarily seem like a thematic fit with a disaster like Katrina, Freeberg says it does serve as an intriguing contrast.

"The thrust of the play," she says, "is that human beings have retreated to nature, which is not only the wild frontier, but the place of promise. As You Like It celebrates the natural world, and here Katrina has shown the power of nature to put human beings back in scale, as it were. The awesome force of nature unleashed with Katrina reminds us of the limitation of our own human powers."

Yet even limited human efforts can have a powerful impact, she adds.

"Over and over you hear people say, what can I do? I'm not a doctor. I'm not mental health specialist. But we can serve others by offering our gifts to the community and hopefully fill the theatre full of like-minded souls who love the arts and want to contribute."

The regularly scheduled performances of Calvin Theatre Company's As You Like It are at 8 p.m., Thursday Nov. 3 through Saturday, Nov. 5 and Thursday Nov. 10 through Saturday, Nov. 12.

~written by media relations staff writer Myrna Anderson