The Knavish Hedgehogs want to show you how fun Shakespeare can be.
This performing troupe of youth aged between 11 and 19 created their company in January last year. This is their second year performing in the Fringe Festival. Last year, the troupe put on The Tempest, which earned four-and-a-half out of five stars.
This year, they’re putting on Shakespeare’s romantic comedy As You Like It, which analyzes what happens under dictatorship and discusses consumerism and materialistic values.
The thing that separates the Knavish Hedgehogs from other performers is that they only act out Shakespeare’s plays.
"They’re a group of young people who are really interested in Shakespeare and love Shakespeare," producer Karen Ridd said.
"It’s well-written, and they’re classics for a reason," 16-year-old co-producer Dagen Perrott said.
Perrott hopes that when young people watch youth perform As You Like It, it will change the way a lot of teenagers think about the playwright.
"It’s generally regarded as a classic. You know, old people would read the classics. But now, there’s a bunch of teens performing and producing and doing the costumes," Perrott said.
"We tend to associate it with being highbrow and unaccessible, and here we have a group of youth making it accessible to others," Ridd said.
For Perrott, who has been performing since he was eight years old, the fun in acting out Shakespeare comes from its foreignness.
"They’re beautiful plays and anyone can appreciate them if they try. You get to learn a new language and get insight into a different world," Perrott said. "It was written 400 years ago. The world was different back then."
Perrott is acting in As You Like It in addition to co-producing.
"It’s been amazing. It’s a great learning experience, just learning a different side of acting, what goes on behind the scenes," Perrott reflected.
The youngest member of the Knavish Hedgehogs, 11-year-old Ben McIntyre-Ridd, plays the part of Adam, a 96-year-old man.
"I really don’t know. The director just cast me as that," McIntyre-Ridd laughed at the irony.
"It’s hard playing an old man," McIntyre-Ridd said. "Harder than playing a young man because you have to do all the body language and cane stuff."
McIntyre-Ridd is also the lead in another Fringe show called Raising Roger.
As You Like It began its run July 17 and runs until July 27.
For a list of showtimes and ticket prices, visit winnipegfringe.com