So you might have noticed that there hasn’t been much here on the blog lately. There’s a reason for that. There are only 24 hours in a day, and for some reason I need to sleep for about 8 of them. You know about the new puppy. That, plus trying not to neglect my wife too badly have taken up much of the time that was left over after accounting for the 4 hours a day, 6 days a week I’ve been dedicating to my small part(s) in a local theatre company’s production of Shakespeare’s “As You Like It.”
Yeah, I’m acting, what of it?
I’ve always liked Shakespeare, and through a combination of circumstances I ended up seeing their previous show, “Comedy of Errors.” They were pretty good, so I thought I might like to audition. I was cast as Lord/Forest Lord. For those following along in the script, I was actually Second Lord.
My lord, the roynish clown, at whom so oft
Your Grace was wont to laugh, is also missing. 630
Hisperia, the Princess’ gentlewoman,
Confesses that she secretly o’erheard
Your daughter and her cousin much commend
The parts and graces of the wrestler
That did but lately foil the sinewy Charles; 635
And she believes, wherever they are gone,
That youth is surely in their company.
After much study and rehearsal it became apparent that I was the smarter of the two Thug Lords, so I played him as a psychopathic killer. It makes sense, the two people closest to the usurping Duke Frederick would probably be the two who did his dirty work.
The real revelation for me is the character of Celia. Everyone goes on and on about the lead, Rosalind, who dresses as a young boy and harasses her lover, Orlando, by conning him into wooing “him” by the name of Rosalind. But it seems to me that Celia is actually the wheel around which everything else turns.
Much is made of the homosexual overtones of the play, and certainly there are plenty of sly jokes on the subject, but what if one of the major things Shakespeare was trying to say was that the major power to affect the world resided in women?
Rosalind is playing at being a boy, and is doing stereotypically boy things. S(he) is loud, pushy, and the center of attention. But when you look at it, every major decision is actually made by Celia. Celia decides that they will both abandon the court for the forest. Celia tells Rosalind and Touchstone to stop screwing around and ask Corin for food. Celia ratifies the decision to buy the cottage. Celia berates Rosalind for speaking poorly of women. Celia sets the tone, makes or ratifies all the decisions, and generally is the arbiter of what is good or bad for her group. Celia drives the plot, either directly by making the decisions, or indirectly by causing Rosalind to decide things based upon what Celia wants.
I wonder if Shakespeare was making a sly comment on the true power of women?
It helps that our Celia is Mary Forester, an actress with the power to pull this all off without ever seeming pushy. It’s been a lot of fun working with her, as well as the rest of the cast.
It’s strange to watch something come together as an organic process. We’ve got two dozen people working individually toward a goal we thought we could see from the start. It turns out that we would never have anticipated all the decisions we’ve made along the way. Every decision affects every other decision, sometimes to the point that I couldn’t exactly tell you why we do any one particular thing on stage except to say that it “feels right.” The results are pretty good, though.
A “mixed” review from the News and Observer
The bucolic setting of Shakespeare’s “As You Like It” seems a natural for outdoor production. Bare Theatre obliges in Raleigh Little Theatre’s Stephenson Amphitheatre, adding a twist by placing the action in the Appalachian woods, complemented by live old-timey music. The energetic cast offers assorted pleasures, despite having to fight major technical problems.
A more positive review from arts journal CVNC
For the second time this summer, having joined with the circus last May to bring you A Comedy of Errors, Raleigh Little Theatre hosts Bare Theatre to present a unique evening of Shakespearean delights in a presentation of As You Like It. For this performance, the Forest of Arden is to be found in the hills of Appalachia, as PineCone, the Piedmont Council of Traditional Music, sponsors the appearance of the Zinc Kings, whose traditional music suffuses this show with a solid down-home feel.
And even a bootleg video of the final dance number and epilogue. You can see me on the far right hand side of the screen. Yes, I’m dancing.
We’ve got two more performances, Thursday and Friday, the 29th and 30th. Gates open at 6:45PM and the opening band starts at 7PM. Tickets are $15, and you can get them HERE.
The music is AWESOME. The actors (aside from me) are really talented. Plus food trucks! What else could you ask for a great evening out in Raleigh?
UPDATE: Bonus photo of First Lord (Gary Watts) and Second Lord (me) beating up Rosalind (Whitney Griffin)
Photo credit: Bare Theatre.