AS YOU LIKE IT
BY WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE
GREAT LAKES THEATER
LAKE TAHOE SHAKESPEARE
On the surface, this is a tale of exile and romance. The plot is simple: a young gentleman and two young noblewomen are driven from their homes. They flee into the forest where the rightful Duke has been exiled. But instead of an empty wilderness, they encounter shepherds, wandering nobles, philosophers, hermits, deer and lions - a population Shakespeare borrows from the tales of Robin Hood, English pastorals and classical poetry. This is the fabled Forest of Arden.
Orlando, Rosalind and Celia arrive in Arden and their dangers dissipate. The wood becomes a haven wherein they take on new identities in life and love. Meanwhile, the city-folk mingle with country-folk and the exiled Duke and his followers contemplate the natural state of man. All of these threads are interwoven through language as elegant as any Shakespeare wrote, flowing scene to scene like a brook through dappled glades.
Yet beneath its sparkling surface, As You Like It is not froth. It juxtaposes civilized corruption with the natural world and mocks how urban and rural people view each other. It plays with gender roles and sexual ambivalence. It gazes on mortality and redemption and celebrates the threshold of a new era of individuality and liberation. With themes so modern, it’s astonishing to remember that this play premiered over 400 years ago.
So what have we done with our production? We’ve set it in New England during the second Industrial Revolution, not long after the start of the 20th century. We’ve placed Arden in the foothills of the Adirondack Mountains. The villains are greedy Industrialists. The Exiled Duke is a follower of Emerson, a would-be Thoreau. Rosalind and Orlando are the new Americans. Fiercely democratic, they succeed by merit - not privilege - as they forge a new worldview and sense of equality. Indeed, in this context, the delightful, ever-resourceful Rosalind becomes a kind of metaphor for American womanhood, advancing from 19th century servitude through Gibson Girl glamor to the courage of the Suffragette, and beyond. And finally, since the true pulse of an era resounds in its music, we’ve replaced Shakespeare’s songs with tunes that echo these themes through Yankee syncopation.
It has been fun transplanting this brilliant play to American soil. It has given the text new resonance for us. We hope it does the same for you, and that our version is as you like it.
“...a magical, hysterical production...Sweet Arden comes to vibrant life. Director Edward Morgan makes his ISF debut with...his charmingly beautiful reinvention of Shakespeare’s comedy...”
– Idaho Statesman
“...one of the best productions of Shakespeare’s clever comedy that I’ve seen. ...Edward Morgan directs with a sure hand and a clever wit.”
– San Jose Mercury-News
“Lake Tahoe Shakespeare has framed this 400-year-old comedy cleverly, and effectively, in century-old American terms. And the concept works.”
– Capital Radio / NPR, Sacramento
“..the ambiance Morgan has created is enthralling and exciting.”
– Reno Gazette-Journal
“Comic Triumph...This time-travel works well, as the stellar Great Lakes cast makes the transition so seamlessly.”
– The Plain Dealer, Cleveland
“...highest accolade. ...a fast moving, comedic delight that brings Shakespeare to life.”
– Cleveland Fine Arts Examiner
“...This works beautifully. In fact, this era - with period-specific music and a very realistic, bare-fisted wrestling match woven into the mix - serves as a perfect backdrop for all the comedy, romance and drama this play has to offer. ...nothing short of wonderful.”
– Cleveland Jewish News
“...a clever approach that allows us to view the play’s themes through a fresh, contemporary lens. Meanwhile, Morgan and Co. have squeezed every last drop of comic nectar from the play.”
– Norwalk Reflector, OH
Lights: Rick Martin
Costumes: Kim Krum Sorenson
Set: Russell Metheny
Sound: Joe Court
Music: Nathan Motta
Dance Choreography: Martin Cespedes
Fight Choreography: Ken Merckx