As You Like It

Even by the standards of Shakespearean comedy, As You Like It tests theatrical logic. Unlike other Shakespearean comedies, comic closure is not compromised by pain, punishment or death; nor does the play returns its characters and audiences to a 'real' world in which the fantastic may be put to the test. This book focuses on the performance of As You Like It in the twentieth century. It offers a summary of the prehistory that provides its background and context. The book examines the play as a text for performance on the early modern stage. It is examined not by conjecturally reconstructing a performance that may or may not have taken place, but by mining the script for clues as to how it might have been handled by its first players. It pays particular attention to three contrasting RSC productions: Michael Elliott's of 1961, which launched Vanessa Redgrave's legendary, epoch-defining Rosalind; Buzz Goodbody's of 1973, and Adrian Noble's of 1985. The book addresses two productions beyond the English (and English-speaking) theatre context. The first of these, seen at l'Atelier in Paris in 1934, is Jacques Copeau's redaction Rosalinde; the second Peter Stein's monumental four-hour production for the Schaubühne Berlin in 1977. It focuses on two all-male versions of the play: Clifford Williams's for the National Theatre in 1967, and Declan Donnellan's for Cheek by Jowl in 1991 and 1994. The book draws substantially upon the first-hand audience experience of a recent production, Blanche McIntyre's for Shakespeare's Globe in 2015.

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