DARIEN — How do you make William Shakespeare more relatable? Set it in modern-day Connecticut, of course. That’s what Darien High School is doing for their production of “As You Like It.”

“We really wanted to emphasize rigidity, power, politics, hierarchy and wealth and contrast that with this sense of openness, fluidity and possibility in the forest,” said Andrew Rejan, DHS English teacher and director of the show. “In contemporary terms, where might we find these two worlds in Connecticut in 2016?”

“As You Like It” tells the story of two cousins who have been banished from court to a forest, so in modern day terms, the two go from a country club to a camping ground in rural Connecticut. Court relics have been replaced with tennis balls and local magazines as props around the stage.

Rejan also helped make the show more relatable by cutting it down for both the students and the audience.

“It was a complex process. The kids (were) great being flexible as we shaped the play into a form that’s entertaining for the audience,” he said. “I’m proud of the fact that the kids are able to bring life and imagination to this while using 100 percent Shakespearean language.”

“I’ve been working hard with these guys to be faithful to Shakespeare with a modern twist,” said Claire Borecki, a DHS senior and stage manager for the show. “It’s been a challenge to understand the characters and lines, but they’ve done a good job with it.”

While the language has been difficult, the students have worked through it and found ways to interpret their characters and add their own unique spin to them.

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Crew

Director: Andrew Rejan

Stage Manager: Claire Borecki

Assistant Stage Managers: James Cherico and Anan Durango

Cast (in order of appearance)

Oliver: Lucas Thompson

Charles: Sage Gillespie

Orlando: Grady Allen

Adam: Nicholas Servas

Celia: Jordan Kaloyanides

Rosalind: Eden Wright

Madame Le Beau/Sir Oliver Martext: Charlotte Campbell

Touchstone: Henry Steinthal

Duke Frederick/Musician: Jack Savage

Amiens/Lead Musician: Evelyn Sload

Musician: Elizabeth Kelley

Musician: Isabelle Hole

Musician: Caeleigh O’Connor

Duke Senior: Jeremy Merrifield

Jaques: Anjay Kornacki

Silvius: Grayson Peters

Corin: Lesly Chamorro

Audrey: Kristina Mitchell

Phoebe: Lexi Staubi

“When I first got the script, I didn’t understand who Celia was and I didn’t know her personality,” said Jordan Kaloyanides, a senior who plays one of the female leads in the show. “Shakespeare allowed me to interpret her myself.”

Kaloyanides said she made Celia someone who goes from being self-absorbed and concerned about appearances to being more carefree when she is banished to the forest. Eden Wright, a senior who plays Rosalind, Celia’s cousin and the show’s other leading lady, said she interpreted her character to be an unexpectedly strong female lead.

“She’s interesting and there’s a lot to look at there,” Wright said. “We looked at every piece and twists and turns of how she acts. She feels safe to put her heart into someone else and has so much love to give. She’s very comfortable with herself and has a lot of self-confidence and wit. She’s very different.”

In contrast, Rosalind’s love interest, Orlando, played by sophomore Grady Allen, is being portrayed as an outcast who triumphs at the end.

“This is my first time doing a full-length straight play,” Allen said. “Approaching this character is a lot different from approaching a character in a musical...With a straight play, you have nothing but the text for who you want the character to be.”

Despite only having the text, the students have worked hard to creatively interpret the show, including adding music. A group of five students in the show who are also musicians were given chunks of text and used them as lyrics set to original music they composed. The end result is five originally-composed songs using Shakespeare’s words, including some from the play “Twelfth Night.” The songs are played as part of scenes or as their own separate numbers.

Those interested in seeing this original take on “As You Like It” can see performances Nov. 17 through Nov. 19. Performances will take place at 7 p.m. in the Darien High School auditorium. Tickets are $15 for adults and $10 for students/seniors. Tickets are available online at seatyourself.biz/theatre308 or at the door prior to each show.

ekayata@hearstmediact.com; @erin_kayata