Courtesy of John S. Kuhn
The famous outlaw, Robin Hood, along with his band of “merry men” will be paying Columbus a visit this summer.
The Actors’ Theatre of Columbus will kick off its summer season with a variation of the play, “Robin Hood,” which is scheduled to be shown at Schiller Park, located at 1069 Jaeger St., May 24 – June 24, Thursday through Sunday at 8 p.m.
The particular version of the play was written by Columbus resident and Ohio State alumnus Philip Hickman.
Hickman, who majored in English at OSU, said he always had a passion for writing and started composing plays when he was in high school. He has since completed a total of about 15 short plays and four full-length productions.
“Last year, my wife and I were talking about artistic projects that we were interested in working on. I said I was looking to write another play and she suggested I do something fun,” Hickman said.
Since Hickman and his wife live in the German Village area, where Schiller Park is located, he said it made sense to get involved with a theater that was in his own neighborhood.
“‘Robin Hood,’ was the first thing that came to mind as something that would translate well to the stage, so that’s what I decided to do,” Hickman said.
Being in contact with people from the board of directors for Actors’ Theatre who seemed interested in the project motivated Hickman to finish and fine-tune his play.
“When I found out they were going to do it, I was really excited to the point that even after the postcards had been printed, I still had a feeling they might choose to do something else,” Hickman said.
Hickman researched the legend and other adaptations of Robin Hood to create his own stamp on the play. In his version, Robin Hood demonstrates flaws, whereas many versions depict him as a perfect hero.
“There is no standard Robin Hood legend,” Hickman said. “But compared to the way the Robin Hood story has been told over the last hundred years or so, this one is something more like real people in real situations.”
This particular play is referred to as a swashbuckler, or a play associated with swordsmen and adventurers.
Adam Simon and John Kuhn, who is also the artistic director for the theatre, are co-directing the play.
“The last several years we have started doing one romantic, swashbuckling piece,” Kuhn said. “They’ve been hugely popular and successful for us down here at the park.”
Kuhn said when Hickman came to them with the idea for the script, it seemed like a great fit. Since Hickman had performed in shows at Schiller Park before, he knew what would work in the space.
“It’s a very strong script and we’re very excited about the opportunity to present it,” Kuhn said.
Simon said he thinks “Robin Hood” is a story that will appeal to people of all ages.
“People are very familiar with ‘Robin Hood,'” he said. “It’s accessible to kids and families, while at the same time reaching the kid in each one of us.”
In addition to three different shows performed each summer by the Actors’ Theatre, this year the theatre will expand its usual season at Schiller Park, for the first time, to include two additional productions at the new Columbus Bicentennial Pavilion in Columbus Commons, located at 160 S. High St.
“It’s a new venue, so we’re hoping to draw a bigger audience and bring theatre into the heart of downtown,” Simon said.
Srinath Sampath, president of the board of trustees for the Actors’ Theatre, said this is the perfect year for growth and change within the theatre since its Columbus’ bicentennial.
“This year we have explicitly selected comedies and adventures because we wanted to have a celebratory, lighthearted season that coincides with the bicentennial,” Sampath said.
In past years, it has performed tragedies such as “Oedipus Rex,” but this year more lively plays were selected to not only help celebrate the bicentennial, but to attract a younger crowd, Sampath said.
“We want people to leave with a happy heart,” he said.
The theatre is also working on collaborating with other organizations around the city to add value to each event. Kuhn said the German Village Art League could present artwork during the productions and musicians might perform mini concerts prior to the theatre’s shows.
“We wanted to look for ways to offer additional entertainment, so bringing in a singing duo or an artist of some kind is a way of creating more of an event for the audience, while they’re sitting there waiting for the show to begin,” Kuhn said.
After “Robin Hood” runs, the Actors’ Theatre is planning to put on “The Merchant of Venice,” by William Shakespeare, which is scheduled to run from June 28 to July 29. “The Servant of Two Masters,” written by Carlo Osvaldo Goldoni, is scheduled to be performed at Schiller Park Aug. 2 to Sept. 2.
The last two shows of the summer season will take place downtown at the Columbus Commons. “The Complete Works of William Shakespeare” is scheduled to run from Aug. 16-26, and to wrap up the season, “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” by Shakespeare is scheduled for Sept. 13-23.
Admission into each show is free, but the theatre welcomes donations to help cover the cost of productions.