“As You Like It” by Shakespeare

I wrote last week about how I read a Shakespeare play, since I was about to see a production of As You Like It, and wanted to read the play in advance, to have a cushion of understanding to underpin my viewing experience, though a good production will make the Shakespearean prose accessible by the acting.

We saw a show by the group Ten Thousand Things, which we love for several reasons. They offer ticketed performances, but also offer free community shows for low-income, rehab, and prison populations. They feel Shakespeare and live drama shouldn’t be a privilege. Back in Shakespeare’s day there were cheap seats, but those are hard to come by today, and easy to see why in the audience, where my husband and I, 40 and 45 respectively, were in the tiny minority of “young” people.

Ten Thousand Things also performs in the round in a big room, so there’s a square of seats around the central play area, which was in a big room, not a “proper” theater. The lights are up, the actors regularly break the fourth wall, and the audience is not just up close, but often IN the performance. They also use a minimum of creative props, which really differentiates the experience from seeing a movie, urging me to use my imagination to bring closure to the settings.

So, the text of As You Like It, then. The play has a lot of similarities to other comedies, especially Twelfth Night: cross dressing, banished Duke, pastoral setting. And of course, a bunch of marriages at the end.

Here are the lines you already know that you might not remember came from THIS play:

All the world’s a stage,
And all the men and women merely players. (2.7.140-1)

Men have died from time to time and worms have eaten them, but not for love. (4.1.97-9)

An interesting exploration of women, and gender roles, plus it’s fun and funny to boot.

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