Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

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Literature, Poetry, and Books

As You Like It, in America

The Shakespeare Threatre in Washington, DC is staging (for the next two weeks) a scintillating version of As You Like It. Director Maria Aitken radically expands on two lines from the play:  Jaques's "All the world's a stage" and Celia's "Now, we go contentedly to freedom," into the forest of Arden.   After a conventional beginning virtually every scene is set in a different era, in Arden as America, where freedom blooms in myriad ways.  The versatile actors portray revolutionaries at Valley Forge, explorers, antebellum Southerners, cowboys, and Hollywood glitterati, and of course Rosalind portrays different men.  The focus on freedom is further underscored by some daring stage acrobatics.  (I was reminded of a version of Faust, where Mephistopheles descends on Faust in a swing from the rafters.)  Wheat&Weeds has a keen eye for the merits and shortcomings of the production.  Among its many virtues, W&W provides an insightful guide to the stage in Washington.

Unable to locate my copy of As You Like It, I resorted to my local library, where the only copy left was a "No Fear Shakespeare," which has the original text on one page, faced by a "translation anyone can understand."  Of course, no one who knew the play only in translation would wonder why the play endures.  The modern paraphrasing does little to clarify and obfuscates the beauty of the original.  Fortunately, the title wasn't translated "Whatever." 

Discussions - 3 Comments

Thanks, Kate. I needed the copy to take with me to the play--my complete Shakespeares are a little bulky for that purpose.

Next time you've got time ( and do not wish to print out a lot of pages) remember Dover Books thrift editions -- the whole play for about a dollar.

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