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As You Like It 2 nd Lecture. Experimental Theater? Play among the first to be performed on the stage of the Globe (1599). Seeing play vs. reading it. AYLI very much depends on our seeing it. In theater the play can seem quite satisfying, even moving if Rosalind is well played.

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as you like it 2 nd lecture

As You Like It2nd Lecture

Experimental Theater?

Play among the first to be performed on the stage of the Globe (1599)

seeing play vs reading it
Seeing play vs. reading it
  • AYLI very much depends on our seeing it.
  • In theater the play can seem quite satisfying, even moving if Rosalind is well played.
  • In reading we encounter lots of curious stuff, not all of which still works.
  • E.g., Touchstone’s riff on the seven types of quarreling in V.4. 68ff. (“retort courteous” through “lie direct”).
  • And other topical jokes, mainly in Touchstone’s part, some in Jaques’.
  • The play demands a lively, witty Rosalind and an appealing Orlando.
play as experimental theater
Play as experimental theater
  • We notice how little plot there really is.
  • Classic beginning sense of a world awry, the Cain and Abel pattern of brothers murderously at each other’s throats.
  • Moving to a magic green world where everything seems suspended.
  • And pastoral virtues can prevail: (in Duke Senior’s formulation) “tongues in trees, sermons in stones,/ Books in the running brooks, and good in everything.”
  • Toward the end of the play, Oliver is converted in what looks like a parody of pastoral action: the snake, the lion, Orlando’s rescue of him.
  • And Duke Frederick, as Jaques de Boys tells us, simply comes in contact with the pastoral forest and an old religious man and is converted.
  • Pastoral is magically effective.
experimental theater continued
Experimental theater (continued)
  • Once we enter pastoral world, in Act II, the plot seems to stop.
  • Instead, lots of talk.
  • Songs (more than in any other of Shakespeare’s plays).
  • Bad poetry recited: III.2.85-92, 121ff.
  • And parodied: 98ff. And mocked, 161ff.
  • Wooing: Orlando of “Ganymede,” Silvius of Phebe (and Phebe of Ganymede), Touchstone of Audrey (rhymes with bawdry).
  • And mockery of wooing: IV.1.63ff, 135ff.
  • And of literary traditions; IV.1.88ff.
  • And more talk.
  • And finally, the marriage Masque of Hymen.
jaques seven ages of man in the globe
Jaques’ “seven ages of man” in the Globe
  • A set piece, a sort of theatrical “aria.”
  • “All the world’s a stage” – perhaps a cliché.
  • But it translates, “Totus mundus agit histrionem,” the motto of The Globe.
  • In theater the audience sees itself, understands its theatrical role.
  • So we’re aware that the speech reflects the audience; we’re included in the theatricality.
  • New Globe production of the play a few years ago: the schoolboys, then everybody else.
  • The pat entrance of Orlando and Adam at end.
  • But the inadequacy of the speech to define them.
jaques as character
Jaques as character
  • Completely extraneous to the plot.
  • His name.
  • Related to contemporary fashion for satire: II.7.58ff.
  • But his satire is general (ll. 70ff) – and therefore toothless?
  • Satire of the fashion for satire?
  • Jaques also represents parody of the fashion for melancholy: he “can suck melancholy from a song, as a weasel sucks eggs” (II.5).
  • Orlando and he are like oil and water: III.2.248.
  • The mocker mocked.
  • Comes he comes in for mockery from Rosalind in IV.1.
  • And when Orlando enters, Jaques leaves: “God be with you an you speak in blank verse”
  • And at end, “I am for other than for dancing measures.”
  • Will Kemp (played Falstaff, Dogberry, other “clown” roles) had left the Lord Chamberlain’s company. (Danced a jig all the way to Norwich.)
  • And was replaced by Robert Armin, who was physically Kemp’s opposite.
  • Armin known for his singing voice, sharp wit.
  • Would go on to play Feste in Twelfth Night, the gravedigger in Hamlet, the Fool in King Lear.