Summer/Fall 2006

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Stuff that Happens
Stuff that Happens Before the play
  • Duke Frederick has overthrown his brother, Duke Senior, who has fled to the Forest of Arden with a group of followers, including a courtier named Jaques.
Stuff that happens during the play
  • Orlando complains to his old servant, Adam, that his older brother, Oliver, is depriving him of his education and inheritance.
  • Oliver hears that Orlando plans to wrestle Charles, Duke Frederick’s champion, and incites Charles to kill Orlando in the bout.
  • At the wrestling match, Orlando meets Rosalind, the banished duke’s daughter.
  • After Orlando wins the wrestling match and Duke Frederick hears that Orlando is the son of Sir Rowland – a friend of the banished Duke – Duke Frederick snubs Orlando instead of rewarding him.
  • Rosalind, however, gives Orlando something of hers to wear.
  • Duke Frederick banishes his niece Rosalind from court.
  • Celia insists on accompanying Rosalind and they hatch a plan to take Touchstone “the clownish fool” and seek the banished Duke Senior in the Forest of Arden.
  • Adam warns Orlando that Oliver plans to murder him and the two of them flee,
  • Rosalind (disguised as a boy, “Ganymede”), Celia (disguised as Ganymede’s sister, “Aliena”), Touchstone, Orlando, and Adam reach the Forest of Arden, where the banished Duke Senior, Jaques, and other lords as well as the Arden natives Corin, Silvius, Phoebe, and Audrey are pursuing their pastoral interests.
  • Teaching, learning, and loving ensue.
Notes from the Director
Breathe deep and renew

The old life we knew is falling away, it’s proven difficult to accept
And I had been feeling like I’d lost my way, before I’d taken my first step

Where do you go when your world falls apart? If you could create your own version of paradise, what would it be like?

In As You Like It, an exiled Duke and his followers make the Forest of Arden their Utopia by finding “tongues in trees, books in the running brooks,  sermons in stones, and good in everything.” When the Duke’s daughter is also banished, she flees to the forest to find her father. After being mistreated and threatened by his older brother, a young lord finds himself in Arden and is surprised to discover gentleness rather than savagery.

Shakespeare bombards us with plot points until all of these people are living in the forest, where he slows everything down for a series of conversations about love, marriage, and the meaning of life.

There are people who walk through my door but I don’t know their names.
Time to turn my eyes from the floor and refocus my aim, it feels a little insane.

In our modern age, the internet has spawned a global village where we are connected to one another at the click of a mouse; and yet we desperately need a piece of what Shakespeare gives us in Arden. News may travel the earth faster than ever and a plumber in Pittsburgh may be able to be Facebook friends with a neurosurgeon in Nagasaki, but we have paid a price for these gifts. The world may be more connected on some levels, but it is also growing colder and more isolated in other ways. We’ve become couch potatoes wasting away in front of televisions and now we are computer potatoes vegetating in the dim glow of our laptops. Fortunately for us, however, we have some life lessons we can glean from the “country copulatives” of Arden. Nestled inside this romantic comedy is a treatise on slowing down, on finding a place of peace outside the rat race where a person can boil his uncomplicated life down to: “I earn that I eat, get that I wear; owe no man hate, envy no man’s happiness.”

This old soul is weakening and this old debt is due.
This old smile is teaching me to breathe deep and renew.

Another cure for what ails our brave, new, cold, computer world can be found in the 400-year-old staging conventions for which Shakespeare wrote. Shakespeare wrote his plays to be performed in spaces where the audience surrounded the stage and was bathed in the same light as the actors (the sun at the outdoor Globe theatre; chandeliers, wall sconces, and sun through the windows at the indoor Blackfriars). Returning to these conditions not only allows performers to build bonds with the audience, but it also creates a kind of community that is impossible to find in darkened proscenium theatres. As silly as it might sound, this sort of communal experience combined with the joys of live theatre can make the world a better place. And this communal experience is an all-inclusive journey; Shakespeare wrote his plays to appeal to the unemployed, uneducated groundlings standing in front of his stage as well as to the privileged lords seated in the chambers above and behind the stage. There’s room for everyone on the rides Shakespeare wrote. In As You Like It, we invite you to delight in the journey to Arden and the fun to be had once we get there. Are you ready to ride?

I’m losing my mind while I’m finding my bliss
Awakened to a better world than this.

Jim warren


(song lyrics from “A Better World Than This” by Paul Fidalgo)