AS YOU LIKE IT by William Shakespeare
As You Like It was probably first performed in the Autumn of 1599 at the newly opened Globe Theatre in London.
We do not know who first played Rosalind but we do know that the part was not played by a woman. Tradition has it that Shakespeare himself played the part of Adam, a role which in our production is incorporated into the character of Charles.
The earliest recorded performance of the play was in 1723 at Drury Lane, in an adaptation by Charles Johnson called Love in a Forest. A production closer to Shakespeare's text was given in 1740, with Hannah Pritchard as Rosalind and Kitty Clare as Celia (a part she continued to play until 1763). From then the play was constantly performed.
Eighteenth century Rosalinds included Peg Woffington, Mary-Ann Yates, Mary Robinson, Sarah Siddons and most notably Dorothy Jordan who played the part for thirty years. Macready restored much of Shakespeare's text for his production in 1842 but it was not until 1896 that the full text was staged for the first time in three hundred years in a production by George Alexander.
The show lasted four hours. Julia Neilson was Rosalind, Fay Davis was Celia and Henry Irving played Oliver 'much like Iago', according to Bernard Shaw in his review.
Théophile Gautier wrote a novel Madamemoiselle de Maupin in 1835 which was both a version of As You Like It and a novel which contained a staging of the play. The novelist George Sand staged her own very different version of the play in Paris in 1856. Great Rosalinds of the nineteenth century included Helen Faucit, Mary Anderson and Lily Langtry.
The twentieth century saw a male actor as Rosalind for the first time in nearly four hundred years when Ronald Pickup played the part in an all-male production at Britain's National Theatre in 1967. The play returned to the Globe, in the newly reconstructed theatre, in 1998 with Anastasia Hille as Rosalind.
The first performance of our production was at Park Theatre Eastbourne on 23 September 1998 followed by a British tour to Goodnestone Park, St. Paul's Church Covent Garden, Trinity Arts Centre Tunbridge Wells, Theatre Royal Margate, Hackney Empire Studio, The Bull Barnet, Princess Royal Theatre Port Talbot, Steiner Theatre London, Astor Theatre Deal and Merlin Theatre Haverfordwest. The production played at The Fringe Club as part of the 1999 Hong Kong Festival.
In the original cast the parts of Rosalind, Celia, Orlando and Oliver were played by Edda Sharpe, Rebecca Hall, Louise Barrett and Joanne MacInnes.
This revised production opened at The Tower Theatre as part of the Brighton Festival in May 1999 before playing Castle Community School Deal, King George VI Park Ramsgate, Pimlico School, Goodnestone Park Kent, Rosehill Theatre Whitehaven and Le Jardin Shakespeare Paris.
The production then toured South Africa, playing in Grahamstown, Port Elizabeth and Darling. At some of the perfomances Rosalind was played by Natasha Wightman and Celia by Tina Gambe.
DIRECTOR & DESIGNER
A. S. M.
Edda Sharpe & Sue Henry
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