Notes from the Forest: Act 2 - 2 Forest, 2 Furious

Every week, A.B.L.E. teaching artist Emma MacLean takes you behind the scenes for our teen ensembles’ spring production, As You Like It. Click here to catch up on our past installments, and read on to find out about Week 3 of rehearsals.

Heading into this week of rehearsals, looking at the Act 2 play plot, I was worried. Act 2 is long, it introduces a lot of characters (Jacques, Silvius, Phebe, Corin…), and there are a lot of moving parts. But I didn’t need to worry, the ensemble breathed life into this challenging act.

Members of the Monday ensemble listen and share their responses to our weekly check-in question: Rosalind is banished from her home in the court and moves to the Forest. If you had to leave Chicago, where would you move?

With Act 2, we finally arrive in the much discussed Forest of Arden. For check-in this week, actors told us where they would move if they had to leave Chicago. Answers like Hawaii, Arizona, and California had me dreaming of warmer weather, but alas we remain in the tail end of Chicago’s winter. As Touchstone reminds us, we must be content:


Ay, now am I in Arden; the more fool I;

when I was at home, I was in a better place:

but travelers must be content.

Act 2 is all about discovery. Around each tree there are new stories and secrets to unfold. But what Act 2 teaches us is: no matter where we go, there we are. Rosalind and Celia may be disguised, but they have brought more of the court with them than they realize.

Adam and Orlando, fleeing Orlando’s terrible older brother Oliver, worry that they have stumbled upon enemies when they meet Duke Senior and his merry band of wanderers in the forest. But the court civility continues under the tree branches.


What would you have? Your gentleness shall force

More than your force move us to gentleness.


I almost die for food; and let me have it.


Sit down and feed, and welcome to our table.

More than stories, secrets, or welcoming suppers, what we find in the forest is LOVE. Love letters that Orlando posts on every tree. Love at first sight when Phebe lays eyes on Ganymede (Rosalind in disguise as a man). And love-lorn Silvius who wanders the forest pining (little tree joke for you) after Phebe.


O Corin, that thou knew'st how I do love her!


I partly guess; for I have loved ere now.


No, Corin, being old, thou canst not guess,

Though in thy youth thou wast as true a lover

as ever sigh'd upon a midnight pillow:

Thou hast not loved.

O Phebe, Phebe, Phebe!

After working through the Act 2 play plot, our ensemble tried out the next level of puppetry: FOCUS. In pairs, we practiced moving our puppet’s head so that it could follow someone else’s hand. It is amazing to watch trash bags come to life in our actors hands! We’ll keep using these tenets of puppetry (breathing, focus, and weight) to bring the Forest to life with all different puppet creatures.

The Monday ensemble plays with found object puppets made from trash bags.

The Monday ensemble plays with found object puppets made from trash bags.

Next week we tackle the final act of the play and see if and how Rosalind resolve this love quadrangle! Our facilitators also have extra rehearsal to choreograph our puppet sequences. Deeper into the Forest of Arden we go! Stay tuned…