Notes From the Forest: why As You Like It???

Spring semester is about to start for all of our ensembles. While our adults will be focusing on the silver screen, the 20 actors of A.B.L.E.’s teen ensembles will be diving into a classical play. We’re excited to get back to The Bard with one of Shakespeare’s classic comedies As You Like It. We’re working with a brand new adaptation written and directed by A.B.L.E. teaching artist, Emma MacLean. Get to know Emma and learn more about the wonderful, wacky world of As You Like It on today’s blog.

 
This is a perfect spring play. It is a play about finding your way again after being lost a bit in the dark. (And my goodness this winter has been long and dark and cold.) Sometimes we have to become something quite unlike ourselves, to ultimately find who we truly are.
 

How did you start working on As You Like It?

I have been doing Shakespeare sine I was 10 years old. My first ever show was Romeo and Juliet and I played Balthasar. Though the part was small, I fell in love with Shakespeare and find that his work keeps popping up in my life. I’ve acted in over 15 shows, directed a handful, wrote about Richard III and disability for my senior thesis, and now I have the great honor of adapting and lead teaching As You Like It with ABLE this spring.

Emma is no stranger to Shakespeare (that’s her as Viola in one of her first plays), nor is she a stranger to A.B.L.E. - she served as sign language consultant for our 2017 devised show Gems Unseen, joined us as a facilitator for Cyrano de Bergerac last spring, and joined our teaching artist team to lead outreach workshops in the fall 2018.

Emma is no stranger to Shakespeare (that’s her as Viola in one of her first plays), nor is she a stranger to A.B.L.E. - she served as sign language consultant for our 2017 devised show Gems Unseen, joined us as a facilitator for Cyrano de Bergerac last spring, and joined our teaching artist team to lead outreach workshops in the fall 2018.


Why do you like As You Like It?

Oh so many reasons! One of my favorite lines in the play is said by Celia: “Wonderful, wonderful, most wonderful wonderful and yet again wonderful, and after that out of all hooping!” I feel like this line encapsulates so much about the play. It is over the top, silly and full of a joy for life.

But As You Like It isn’t all fluff. It is a play about family and change and discovering your identity. This is a perfect spring play. It is a play about finding your way again after being lost a bit in the dark. (And my goodness this winter has been long and dark and cold.) Sometimes we have to become something quite unlike ourselves, to ultimately find who we truly are. Rosalind, the play’s main character, disguises herself as a man when she is forced to flee to the Forest of Arden. Once in the forest, pretending to be a man, she meets her new love Orlando. She decides to pretend to be a woman so Orlando can practice wooing her. That’s a woman, dressed like a man, pretending to be a woman. It seems confusing and strange, but ultimately Rosalind falls even more deeply in love with this man and is able to reveal her true self.

Four actors who have been in the teen ensemble for many years will graduate after this show. I hope that this play, and all the shows that they have done at A.B.L.E., will teach them how other identities can teach us about ourselves.


Tune in next week for the plot of show!

(check out this clip for a super condensed version)