Shakespeare’s As You Like It has everything you could want in a play — banishment, wrestling, romance and, of course, cross-dressing. I n the story, a mean brother wants to kill his uppity younger brother, who stood up to him. So the younger brother, Orlando, flees to the forest of Arden, where he runs into a young shepherd named Ganymede. Only Ganymede is really Rosalind in disguise; she was banished by the mean Duke Frederick, who also banished his older brother, the imaginatively named Duke Senior. Still with me? Also living in the forest are the court jester Touchstone, the melancholy Jaques, and various attendants, wenches and faithful old servants. All good fun to watch — and great fun to perform.
The Arden Shakespeare Gild is presenting As You Like It this summer. Arden, an artsy little hamlet north of Wilmington, was founded in 1900 by Philadelphia sculptor Frank Stephens and his architect friend Will Price. Stephens named the utopian village “Arden” after the forest that everyone flees to in As You Like It, and laid out the outdoor theater before he built his house. He even played Touchstone in an early production. So Arden’s tradition of performing Shakespeare’s works was established right from the start.
In 2000, to celebrate the village’s centennial, the Gild selected As You Like It and set the action in 1900. Now the Gild has decided to do the show every ten years. So here we are — a bunch of engineers and psychologists and realtors who enjoy the challenge and the fun of making Shakespeare’s words come to life. By bringing our different experiences to our characters and to the story, we try to make sure that each production — in fact, each performance — is unique.
Character and story are the main concerns of our director, Mary Catherine Kelley (aka MC). She makes us ask ourselves: What do I mean when I say my lines? What do I want? How do other characters react? And how does what I say and do fit into the overall story? MC’s job is to make sure every line and every scene add up to a cohesive story that draws the audience in and pulls them along to the end.
Come see As You Like It and find out how much fun Shakespeare can be in an intimate little theater nestled in the forest of Arden. Show dates are June 18, 19, 20, 23, 24, 25 and 26.