What it's about.
As You Like It is a comedy by William Shakespeare. It features several plot lines, all of which intersect. A lot of cross dressing is featured, manipulating identities, and of course...a marriage. YAY LOVE! ❤️
October 4th, 2017. I get off the 4 train at Union Square and get shoved about ten times. Everyone’s in a rush, and I’m over here, feelin’ like Kevin McCallister in Home Alone 2: Lost in New York. You know, you would think for someone who’s lived in New York her whole life, I wouldn’t have this problem… WRONG. I have a terrible sense of direction. And even though according to Google Maps, I was only a five-minute walk from the theatre, for me, that translated to twenty minutes. Yea, it’s pretty bad...
Anyways, after my cardio, I finally find the Classic Stage Company. So I arrive, and the theatre is inside of a super rad café. I’ve never seen anything like it, it was so dope. Everyone in there looked so cool, and not gonna lie, I was lowkey intimidated by their coolness. So I strut in there rockin’ my John Lennon shades, pick up my ticket... and seeing as I had 90 minutes before the show, I decide to grab a bite to eat. And thus my food adventure begins. *SPOILER ALERT* I had nuggets and they were bomb AF. 😇
Now I make it back to the theatre, take a program, and am escorted to my seat. The walls of the theatre were brick, which I’ve never seen inside a theatre before. It was a relatively small space, very cozy and warm. So I’m reading the program and looking through the cast, right, and I see that Ellen Burstyn is playing Jacques (traditionally a man's role). Ellen Burstyn! AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!! I’m a huge fan of her work and at this point, I was highkey fangirling.
I look at the set pieces, which was composed largely of an array of dangling lights (the lights change colors throughout the show to indicate change in scenery). And I’m sitting there, staring at the ceiling, when all of sudden…the actors walk on stage. They didn’t come from where I was expecting them to, they came from the side where I entered. I was like, wait, where did you guys come from??
I am so fascinated by is the fact that this play was written centuries ago and it still continues to be performed today. Not only that, but the fact that I could understand what was happening, even though the language was poetic, ancient and had a lot of “thys” and “thous”.
A thing that lingered in my thoughts throughout the duration of the show was a note from the program. In the program, there is an interview with the director, John Doyle and when asked about his approach to casting the play and how that connects to the themes of the play, he says: “Love doesn’t only belong to the young” and he was more interested in “representing the humanity of our time on stage.” The world isn’t what it once was. Times change. People change. Culture changes. In As You Like It, there were lovers of all sorts: old lovers, young lovers, and interracial lovers. An image that came to my mind was that of water. I say water because when I think of water, I think of fluidity.
Fluidity in gender.
Fluidity in love.
Fluidity in life.
It’s amazing to think of how far we’ve come. That’s not to say of course, that there isn’t work to be done, there most definitely is. However, the trajectory is there nonetheless. At the time that Shakespeare was alive, this play would’ve been performed solely by men. Tonight however, I saw a very diverse cast. What I saw on stage was a reflection of our times today. Love is for everyone. It was beautiful to see that.
When I left the theater, I was snapchatting about the fact that Ellen Burstyn was sitting next to me and I was finally able to unleash my fangirl mode, which I’ve been concealing for the duration of the show with a mask of coolness. When I’m finished geeking out, I stop walking and realize, I don’t know where the hell I am. OH NO. NOT GOOD… NOT AGAIN. Luckily, I eventually found my way back to train station and was on my way home. Now my only concern was having the energy to wake up the next morning and make it to my 9AM class.
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