As You Like It

By William Shakespeare
June 1 1990
directed by Jack Clay

The kingdom's rightful ruler, Duke Senior, his position and estates usurped by Ws younger brother Frederick, now lives in the Forest of Arden with a band of loyal followers while his daughter Rosalind remains at court as a companion to Frederick's daughter Celia. Rosalind and Orlando, a youth who defeats Frederick's wrestler, fail in love with one another on sight. When Frederick discovers that Orlando is the son of an old friend of the Duke, he vents his annoyance by banishing Rosalind from the court. Celia insists on following her and, together with Frederick's jester Touchstone, they go to the Forest of Arden. Orlando has meanwhile been forced by the hatred of Ws elder brother Oliver, one of Frederick's courtiers, to take refuge in the same woods. The fugitives join the outlawed Duke and his followers, including the cynical Jacques, who are leading a contented fife in the forest. Rosalind, who is disguised as a boy named "Ganymede," finds some verses written to her by the lovesick Orlando. Without realizing that "Ganymede" and Rosalind are the same person, Orlando confides to "him" his love for her. To test his devotion "Ganymede" offers to cure him of his lovesickness if Orlando will woo "him" as though "he" were Rosalind. Oliver, sent by Frederick to find Orlando, is reconciled with him when Orlando saves Ws life Then, when he meets Celia, Oliver falls in love with her and they plan to marry the next day. At the wedding feast "Ganymede" reveals her identity and a multiple marriage follows. During the festivities the news arrives that Frederick has also reformed and, having taken religious vows, has restored all lands to Ws brother, Duke Senior.

Date Time
Friday June 1 12:00 am
Closed

Our production focuses on the seemingly magical transformations brought about by love, physical and spiritual. In the "world apart" of the Forest of Arden all levels of the hierarchy of love are represented: the animal lust of Touchstone and Audrey, the disloyal adulteries sung about by the forester and rejected by Orlando, romantic love, with its mingling of both male and female qualities, and the spiritual rediscovery of brotherly love. All culminates in a blessing from the god of marriage, Hymen.

The kingdom's rightful ruler, Duke Senior, his position and estates usurped by Ws younger brother Frederick, now lives in the Forest of Arden with a band of loyal followers while his daughter Rosalind remains at court as a companion to Frederick's daughter Celia. Rosalind and Orlando, a youth who defeats Frederick's wrestler, fail in love with one another on sight. When Frederick discovers that Orlando is the son of an old friend of the Duke, he vents his annoyance by banishing Rosalind from the court. Celia insists on following her and, together with Frederick's jester Touchstone, they go to the Forest of Arden. Orlando has meanwhile been forced by the hatred of Ws elder brother Oliver, one of Frederick's courtiers, to take refuge in the same woods. The fugitives join the outlawed Duke and his followers, including the cynical Jacques, who are leading a contented fife in the forest. Rosalind, who is disguised as a boy named "Ganymede," finds some verses written to her by the lovesick Orlando. Without realizing that "Ganymede" and Rosalind are the same person, Orlando confides to "him" his love for her. To test his devotion "Ganymede" offers to cure him of his lovesickness if Orlando will woo "him" as though "he" were Rosalind. Oliver, sent by Frederick to find Orlando, is reconciled with him when Orlando saves Ws life Then, when he meets Celia, Oliver falls in love with her and they plan to marry the next day. At the wedding feast "Ganymede" reveals her identity and a multiple marriage follows. During the festivities the news arrives that Frederick has also reformed and, having taken religious vows, has restored all lands to Ws brother, Duke Senior.

A Comical Fantasia Out of Time Our approach hinges on Shakespeare's own words, "there is no clock in the forest' " Our "world apart" is a comic fantasia, with no regard for time and place because the transforming power of love, both romantic and spiritual, exists for all people, in all places and for all time. John Morris' sweetly romantic music expresses this concept, mesmerizing audiences and encapsulating them in the "world apart." Costumes and setting also defy restriction to historical time and place, expressing only imagination and delight. Characters' attire includes the style of Cavalier gentlemen, country and western singers, Dogpatch characters and all-star wrestlers. Such contemporary showbiz and theatrical references are designed to encourage audience members to relate the play's story and themes to their own lives. The metamorphosis of love is also symbolized in the set, which transforms before the audience's eyes to finally include a spectacular entrance of the god Hymen. In As You Like It all of the characters are magically transformed by love with the exception of the cynical Jaques who leaves the magical world unaltered. Pulling away from period style will allow our production to focus on the "heart" of Shakespeare's play, its words and its story. Romance Needs a "World" of Its Own Every society throughout history has created rules and regulations surrounding romance, courtship and marriage. These rules often impede the natural progress of romantic love, keeping people who love one another from living "happily ever after." Shakespeare's England developed particularly rigid and restrictive guidelines governing romantic love- In response to these restrictions Shakespeare, among many dramatists, created pastoral settings for his romantic comedies, allowing his characters to escape the oppressive confines of society. In these bucolic areas, exemplified by the Forest of Arden in As You Like It, characters are free to discover, court and marry their true loves without regard for society's hindrances. The rigidity of the rules governing romance was a popular topic in Shakespeare's England. The theme of the miseries of enforced marriage was popular in sermons, stories, poems and plays of the time However, little is said about romantic love in connection with marriage Young Elizabethans were constrained by a severe sense of duty to God and to their parents, and it was largely accepted that parents should have an unlimited right to dictate the mates of their children. Parental concerns extended far beyond love and compatibility in selecting a proper mate for their child. Marriages held important financial and dynastic considerations, and shifts in social rank through improper marriages between persons of different classes was deplored. In many cases gentlemen would review several prospective brides at once, searching for the most favorable dowry, family and lands. In the choice of a wife there was also the pragmatic concern for the strength of the eventual offspring. As a result of such considerations, romance and the process of wooing was tremendously formal in Elizabethan times. The wooing process could include a gentleman writing sonnets to Ws mistress and wearing a piece of her jewelry in Ws hat. It was also useful to be able to dance and sing with the ladies. In the Forest of Arden, however, none of these confinements apply. Duke Senior, though exiled to the forest, realizes the pastoral dream of finding "books in the running brooks" and "sermons in the stones." Amiens also sings sweetly of pastoralism in "Under the Greenwood Tree" Formality is mocked in the wooing scenes of Orlando and "Ganymede" Parental interference does not occur. In fact, Duke Senior supports the love match between Orlando and Rosalind and later between Oliver and Celia. Love also develops between couples from the lower classes: Touchstone and Audrey, Phebe and Silvius. In his final speech Duke Senior celebrates the rustic revelry and the marriage of true love: First in this forest let us do those ends 
That here were well begun and well begot;
And after, every of this happy number
That have endured shrewd days and nights with us
Shall share the good of our returned fortune 
According to the measure of their states. 
Meantime, forget this new-fall'n dignity 
And fall into our rustic revelry.
Play music, and you brides and bridegrooms all 
With measure heaped in joy,
To the measures fall. (V, iv, 170-180)