As You Like It – 2004

 

Director Mo Pearce

Pride and Prejudice, Lord of the Rings, and Bridget Jones Diary are just three of the many well known stories successfully dramatised for television and cinema. Adaptations from both popular and classic literature have proved to be a good idea but not a new one. Greek playwrights dramatised the stories and legends of heroes. Medieval mystery plays were based OIT stories from the Bible. Shakespeare and his contemporaries also drew their inspiration from history, myth, and popular contemporary tales.

As You Like It is thought to have been inspired by the popular prose romance Rosalynde, written in 1590 by Thomas Lodge and it may also have been influenced by other contemporary pastoral tales and poems in circulation. The play was probably first performed in 1599 to mark the opening of the newly built Globe Theatre in Southwark, on the south bank of the Thames.

At the heart of the play are themes we are still exploring today. The TV. series The Good Life followed the fortunes of neighbours with very different life styles. The two couples’ diverse aims and ambitions, simple on the one hand and sophisticated on the other; both entertained us and gave us food for thought. Underneath the humour was a challenge to our notions of what really constitutes the “good life”. In As You Like It we are invited to consider the different atmospheres of court and country. Both the serious and humorous exchanges between court and country characters in the play present us with arguments for and against the advantages and disadvantages of both life styles but leave us to draw our own conclusions.

The banished courtiers are reported to be living in the forest like “Robin Hood of old England”, but the play is a romance and this description is romantic view of life in the great outdoors which, in all probability, was a cold, hungry and very uncomfortable experience. Shakespeare set his play in France, but which forest did he really have in mind, Arden or Ardennes? In earlier times The Forest of Arden in Warwickshire may well have been home to outlaws, but our ideas of an idyllic, free and easy existence close to nature probably owes more to Hollywood than history. Certainly at the end of the play when the opportunity to leave the “idyllic” Forest of Arden presents itself, the majority of carefree courtiers don’t appear to have too many second thoughts about leaving the countryside and returning to civilisation.

By the time Shakespeare wrote As You Like It, the English forests were beginning to disappear as commons and woodland were gradually being enclosed by rich and powerful landowners. Nevertheless forests were always special locations for Shakespeare, places of mystery, magic and mayhem. They feature not only in As You Like It, but in the fun and fantasy of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Merry Wives of Windsor and Two Gentlemen of Verona; whilst in Macbeth and Titus Andronicus, they prove to be places of darkness and danger.

But As You Like It is a romantic comedy, and the play ends with marriage celebrations uniting all the lovers in a traditional happy ending: “Love Actually”, Elizabethan style

 

Cast

ORLANDO Robin Owen

ADAM, servant Derrick Scothern

OLIVER Guy Marshall

DENNIS, groom Richard Morley

CHARLES, the wrestler Shane McGarvey

 

DUKE FREDERICK’S COURT

CELIA, the Duke’s daughter Kate Batters

ROSALIND, her cousin Vicki Bays

TOUCHSTONE, court jester Phil Cox

MADAME LE BEAU, courtier Carolyn Noble

DUKE FREDERICK Stuart Vince

LORD MOUNTJOY Richard Morley

 

PAGES

HENRI Henry Martin

MARIUS James Mathews

 

MAIDS

MARIE ESTELLE Amy Dunk

MARIE FRANCE Stephanie Dickenson

MARIE ELISE Bronte Becketi

MARIE CLAUDE, flautist Katie

 

IN THE FOREST OF ARDEN 

THE BANISHED DUCHESS Maggie Caspall

AMIENS Stuart Loakes

JAQUES John Hunter

CORIN, a shepherd Mark Hebert

SYLVIUS, a shepherd Ray Livermore

PHEBE, a shepherdess Michala Gardiner

AUDREY, a goatherd Michelle Grobbelar

SIR OLIVER MARTEXT, a priest Shane McGarvey

WILLIAM, a yokel Shane McGarvey

 

Production Team

Director Mo Pearce

Stage Manager Kevin Connor

Scenic Designer Colin Chalk

Choreographer Pam Williams’

Fight Manager Dave Higgins

Wardrobe Mistress Jo Fradley

Costume Team Mo Pearce, Suzanne Connor

Poster Design Simon Webb

Stage Construction Kirton Construction

Set Construction & Backstage Kevin Connor, Graham Pearce, Paul Wing, Ken McCollin, Beth Connor, Jayne Ellis, Debs Wing, Sarah Vincelli, Suzanne Connor, Amy Monk

Technical Adviser to the production Chris Glenton

Properties Sarah Boon, Jacqui Spencer, Michelle Warr & Diane Dickenson

Lighting Team Mel Pugsley, Maggie Redgrave, Daniel Cousins, Roger Blackmore, Kieran Reed, Michael Dawson

Sound Team Beth Connor, Sarah Vincelli, Ken McCollin

Make up Team Diana Mackay, Sue Painter

Prompt Jacqui Spencer

Front of House & Sales Trish James, Michael Cook & Team

Box Office Cheryl Cook & Team

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