Now I Am in Arden
Love and the possibility of change
As You Like It
Rosalind and Orlando engage in a glorious game of love, lust, and mistaken identities in a magical forest in Shakespeare’s As You Like It. Kelly Kitchens directs the production which runs April 23 through May 19 at the Center Theatre at Seattle Center.
“I am very much looking forward to the vision that Kelly has for this production. She’s been a friend and collaborator for many, many years,” said Seattle Shakespeare Company Artistic Director George Mount. “She knows this play quite well having performed the role that I’m playing. This is now the third role that Kelly and I have both shared.” Mount will play the character of Jacques in As You Like It. Kitchens previously played the role in a Wooden O production of As You Like It in 2015. Mount and Kitchens have also played Kate in The Taming of the Shrew and Saturninus Titus Andronicus in separate productions.
Kitchens has put a sharp delineation on the two worlds of As You Like It: The dangerous realm of the court and the world of “what if” in the forest of Arden. “The thing I’m most interested in exploring in this play is the pulsing, beating human heart and that sense of humor we all have,” said Kitchens. “And our ability for redemption and re-creation.”
In As You Like It, Rosalind seeks out her exiled parent by escaping from an oppressive court, disguised as a boy. She flees with her cousin and a clown to the Forest of Arden. The woods offer not only freedom, but also a motley crew of characters and the chance to experience life and love with a fellow outcast, Orlando, from a whole new perspective.
Kitchens has restructured scenes in the play. “One of the things I really want to do is pressure cooker us into Arden, and make that journey urgent and necessary. The two spaces (Court and Arden) really need to talk to each other because most of these people will end up returning to court,” said Kitchens. She and her design team will create a stage world inspired by current fashion and wintery landscapes.
Jonelle Jordan and Quinlan Corbett will play Rosalind and Orlando. They are joined Peter Crook as Duke Frederick/Corin, Bobbi Kotula as Duke Senior, Sunam Ellis as Celia, and Rebecca M. Davis as Touchstone. Set design for the production is by Julia Hayes Welch, costume design by Chelsea Cook, lighting design by Thorn Michaels, sound design by Rob Witmer, and original music by Tim Symons and Leslie Wisdom.
Original Story?…Mmm, kinda.
Shakespeare borrowed from Thomas Lodge’s Rosalynde to create As You Like It. In Lodge’s story, the ladies leave the court and have to face outlaws, rape, and the threat of incest. Shakespeare altered the plot and renamed some of the characters.
A Late Bloomer
After the early stage success in 1599, As You Like It fell out favor. Nobody wanted to do it. It was almost 140 years later that was revived in London and it’s been an audience favorite ever since.
It Takes Two, Baby
The world of the court and the world of the forest have very different vibes. Shakespeare plays with duality in this play in several ways: Two dukes, two brothers, the duality of Rosalind being a woman but disguised as a man, all the various love pairings that emerge in the story.
Longing for Rosalind
The role of Rosalind is one of the most sought after parts for actresses. Katherine Hepburn, Vanessa Redgrave, and Maggie Smith are just a few of the more well-known artists to have played Rosalind.
The Newlywed Game
(Spoiler Alert!) Eight characters get married by the end of As You Like It. Eight! That’s the most in any of Shakespeare’s plays.
All the World’s a Stage
One of Shakespeare’s most famous speeches, the Seven Ages of Man, appears in As You Like It and is spoken by the character of Jacques. It’s interesting that Shakespeare’s other famous speech, To be or not to be, from Hamlet was written during roughly the same time period.
That’s a lot of words
The character of Rosalind has 685 lines in As You Like It. That 25% of the total lines in the play. It’s the largest female role in all of Shakespeare’s plays.
Sing a Song
As You Like It gets the runner up award for the most songs in any Shakespeare play. (The Tempest has more, but they often get cut). Our production has added original songs and updated some of Shakespeare’s for this production.
So…what’s the story?
Oliver is jealous of his popular brother, Orlando, who has challenged Charles the Wrestler to a fight. Oliver urges Charles to kill Orlando during the match.
Rosalind and Celia are the daughters of a pair of sisters, Duke Senior and his usurper, Duke Frederick. The daughters are best friends, and, for Celia’s sake, Frederick has kept Rosalind at court.
Orlando wins the fight, and he and Rosalind fall in love. Frederick banishes Rosalind, and Celia plans to escape with her. Rosalind disguises herself as Celia’s brother, and, along with the Duke’s clown, Touchstone, they head into the forest of Arden, where Duke Senior and his friends are living happily as outlaws. Orlando, warned that he is in danger, also heads to the forest and joins the outlaws.
Rosalind and Orlando meet, but he mistakes her for a boy. She encourages him to woo her as if she were Rosalind so that she can put his true feelings to the test.
Oliver is sent by Frederick to retrieve Orlando. He is attacked by a lion, and Orlando saves him but is badly injured. Oliver brings Orlando help, and they are reconciled. Oliver is introduced to Celia, and they fall in love. Her “brother” promises to produce Rosalind if Duke Senior will let her marry Orlando. He agrees, and Rosalind reveals her true identity. Duke Frederick has a miraculous religious conversion and becomes a hermit.
Adapted from Shakespeare Genealogies by Vanessa James
Duke Senior, deposed and living in banishment in the forest of Arden
Rosalind, daughter of Duke Senior, later disguised as a boy
Amiens and Jacques, Lords attending Duchess Senior
Duke Frederick, Duke Senior’s sibling and the usurper
Celia, Duke Frederick’s daughter and Rosalind’s companion, later disguised
Le Beau, a courtier
Charles, a wrestler
Touchstone, a clown in Duke Frederick’s court
Oliver, the eldest son of Sir Rowland de Bois
Orlando, the youngest son of Sir Rowland de Boys
Adam, an old servant of Sir Rowland de Boys
Dennis, Oliver’s servant
Corin, a shepherd
Silvius, a shepherd
Phoebe, a shepherdess
William, a country boy
Audrey, a goatherd
Sir Oliver Martext, a clergyman
Jaques de Boys, son of Sir Rowland de Bois
You Heard It Here First
Shakespeare has given us words and phrases that we use every day, but before he made them up they didn’t exist. Below are some familiar phrases and words that first hit the English language scene with As You Like It. Listen closely in the play to see if you can catch them all.
In a better world than this
Forever and a day
Laid on with a trowel
Neither rhyme nor reason
Want to find out more? Check out Coined by Shakespeare by Jeffrey McQuain and Stanley Malless for an in-depth study and fun exploration of Shakespeare’s creative wordplay.
When you know how the trick is done and you still believe it…that’s magic. That’s what we do for Wooden O.And what we’re doing is bringing free performing arts to our community. And what does that entail? And what does that mean? What that means is that there are a lot of people out there who don’t go to theatre. You’re going to share your art form with them this summer. They just don’t go. They can’t afford it. They live too far away. They think it’s too high brow. So we’re going to go and do that. We’re going to help them bridge that gap. So while we’re bridging that gap from a dead playwright from 400 years ago, we’re also going to bridge that gap for people in Tacoma, and Shoreline, and SeaTac, and Lynnwood. And they’re going to get to experience. They’re going to bridge that gap. That’s the continuum that we live in. That’s who we are. It also means, for the people who will be performing those shows that you will have to show up a little extra early, in a van, and unload a set, set up some costumes and tents. And be asked to make your preshow warm the exercise of setting up speakers. And doing your fight call in front of people who are already audience members. It means changing costumes in a tent that everyone can see. They’re not going to see you changing costumes, but they can see that tent where you’re changing. It also means that if you need to get around to behind the house to do an audience entrance that they’re going to see you doing that. But there’s theatre magic. And it doesn’t have to have a theatre to make theatre magic. And what Wooden O has capitalized on in the 22+ years that we’ve been doing it, is that whatever happens outside of that sacred space that we define, whether it’s already defined in the Luther Burbank Amphitheater monoliths, or your stage management team taping it out with architecture tape and spikes; you define that space and that’s magic space. And the moment you cross that threshold, the audience will buy whatever you’re selling them…because you believe in it. And that’s real theatrical magic. When you know how the trick is done and you still believe it…that’s magic. That’s what we do for Wooden O. So you’re going to have some scrappy times and you’re going to have some joyful times. And that’s part of the magic.