Piknik Theatre auditions for 2016 summer production planned for this weekend | SteamboatToday.com

Piknik Theatre auditions for 2016 summer production planned for this weekend

New Zealand actors Cian Elyse White and Adrian Hooke perform roles in the 2014 Piknik Theatre productions of "Romeo and Juliet" and "Botanica."

— Excitement continues to build for the upcoming Piknik Theatre Festival season.

After a year’s hiatus, the festival's outdoor theater programs will be back this summer with two performances offering an infusion of energy.

If You Go…

What: 2016 Piknik Theatre Auditions for Shakespeare's "As You Like It"

When: 5 to 7 p.m. on Friday, March 25 and Saturday, March 26

Where: Bud Werner Memorial Library, 1289 Lincoln Ave.

One of the productions will feature both professional and local actors performing Shakespeare's "As You Like It," and the other will showcase actors from the Araitepo Performance Collective based in Gisborne, New Zealand.

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In preparation for the 2016 season, there will be auditions “As You Like It” from 5 to 7 p.m. on Friday and Saturday at the Bud Werner Memorial Library. Auditions are open to anyone 16 and older who wants to get involved.

Produced by the Great American Laughing Stock Co. and artistic director Stuart Handloff, the Piknik Theatre Festival brings in professional actors from a theater school in New Zealand to rehearse on two productions and lead children's drama camps, which will be held July 18 to July 22 for kids ages 12 to 18.

"They will bring their whole performance over, and we have no idea what it will look like, but I know it will be something that is culturally honest, sincere and very indigenously correct," Handloff said. "It will be the real thing. It's something I always thought would be not just entertaining, but educational, culturally stimulating and spiritually awakening."

Teina Moetara, performing arts educator for Araitepo, which means pathway toward the unknown and references their local river Te Arai, said the company primarily performs work inspired from New Zealand’s Maori culture. The collective was formed in 2014 by Moetara and his wife, Ngapaki, due to the lack of performing arts companies in Gisborne.

"We are a family troupe, who each have extensive performance experiences in theatrical forms and in Maori performing arts," Moetara said. "We are not interested in growing wealth, rather to grow health in the communities we touch."

Shakespeare's "As You Like It" is a pastoral comedy — a work that encompasses the simplicity of country life, which follows heroine Rosalind and her quest for safety, and eventually, love in the Forest of Arden. One of Shakespeare's most famous quotes, "All the world's a stage," comes from this play.

Rehearsals for the production will begin in early July. The free, outdoor theater series will run July 29 to Aug. 14.

"I wanted to have something classical that people know," Handloff said. "But to also have something with the influence of New Zealand culture. It's got that same kind of excitement that I had that very first year we started Piknik Theatre in 2008."

To reach Audrey Dwyer, call 970-871-4229, email adwyer@ExploreSteamboat.com or follow her on Twitter @Audrey_Dwyer1

If You Go…

What: 2016 Piknik Theatre Auditions for Shakespeare’s “As You Like It”

When: 5 to 7 p.m. on Friday, March 25 and Saturday, March 26

Where: Bud Werner Memorial Library, 1289 Lincoln Ave.