On Nov. 12, the American Shakespeare Center (ASC) will perform Shakespeare’s comedy “As You Like It.” The performance will take place in Chapman Auditorium at 7:30 p.m., and admission is free and open to the public.
“As You Like It” is one of Shakespeare’s most quoted plays; the play includes the famous “The Seven Ages of Man” monologue, in which the famous line “All the world’s a stage” is uttered.
While the female protagonist of “As You Like It,” Rosalind, and her poorly educated admirer, Orlando, keep the play moving with their energetic discourse, Jaques, a traveling scholar, and Touchstone, a clown, underscore the play with profound insight. The play ultimately examines the relationship between the free and natural life in the forest of Ardennes and the stilted and treacherous life of the royal court.
Dr. Linda Jacobs, professor of English at Francis Marion and Shakespeare specialist, said that students will leave “As You Like It” both entertained and enriched.
“It’s funny, but it also has an undertone of melancholy. It’s an interesting and powerful play,” Jacobs said. “In fact, Ted Hughes, in his book, ‘Shakespeare and the Goddess of Complete Being,’ says that (As You Like It) is the point at which Shakespeare turned towards internal life, instead of external, joyous farce and comedy.”
Dr. Jon Tuttle, professor of English at Francis Marion, said that students generally find “As You Like It” more palatable than other more commonly performed Shakespearian plays.
“It’s not like ‘King Lear’,” Tuttle said. “It’s not like going to carve your eyes out for four hours. It is a fun play.”
The ASC, formerly the Old Shenandoah Shakespeare express, has performed at Francis Marion numerous times in the past, but this is their first time in three years. Jacobs said that, in her experience, the ASC always puts forth an entertaining and accurate performance.
“It’s a hard play to do, but I’m trusting that the American Shakespeare Center will do a good job with it,” Jacobs said. “Everything I’ve seen that they’ve done is full of energy and life, and was choreographed one hundred percent … it moves very quickly.”
Jacobs also said that, in the spirit of Shakespeare himself, the ASC often employs modern aspects of performance in order to make Shakespeare accessible and entertaining.
“They use music,” Jacobs said. “They often use updated, and even rock, versions of the songs, much like Shakespeare did in his day.”
When asked how a student would benefit from attending “As You Like It,” Tuttle said the answer was simple.
“Well, he could get him some Shakespeare,” Tuttle said. “And it wouldn’t be very painful … but show up on time!”