In 3 weeks time the Clemente/ Catalyst students have to present extracts from As You Like It to a public audience at the MAC (Mission Australia Centre) Surry Hills. We are going to begin with a dramatised reading of Jacques’s speech (perhaps the most famous speech in all of Shakespeare): “All the world’s a stage, And all the men and women merely players” (Act 2 Scene 7). Here is the Globe Theatre production of this amazing, mind-expanding scene (click on the image): Lying behind Jacques’s words is – in my humble view- the whole philosophy of Shakespeare’s theatre. The theatre (and especially what went on in the Globe Theatre in London) is a mirror of the world: we all, regardless of who and what we are, are figures on the stage of life. Each “stage” of our life is another role that we perform. But more deeply than this, every gesture we make, every word we speak expresses the dramatic roles we play out in life. I, now, am the teacher with some wise “saws” to say! You, dear reader, are the intelligent, interested student, listening to an interpretation of the great bard. But I think Shakespeare went even deeper than this. The stage was/is a reflection of the way we all inhabit the world, but it is also a reminder, a metaphor, of the way we are always unconsciously playing out our roles. Sometimes we are embarrassed to be caught between two roles. For example I am talking to my brother on the phone using all the casual, back-slapping language that I use with my younger brother, when suddenly the Vice-Chancellor sticks his nose into my office and catches me at the end of a rather painfully crude sentence! Ouch! Caught between two of my many, many roles. So a question arises, are any of my roles the real me? Is there such a thing as the real me? Maybe not! But maybe Shakespeare, in his best moments presents characters (like Jacques in As You Like It, like the Fool in King Lear, like Prospero in the The Tempest ) who seem to be in touch with a truth that is off-stage! It is in fact sometimes said that the most important moment, or function for both Prospero (in The Tempest) and Jacques (in As You Like It), is that at the end of their role-playing, they both leave the stage- never to return. Is Prospero’s stepping off the stage at the end of The Tempest equivalent to Shakespeare’s return to Stratford after his years in London? Did Shakespeare return home and embrace a more authentic life in retirement?? Questions, questions… but the fact remains that Shakespeare was passionately interested in role-playing as an essential ingredient of the human condition.
BLOG TOPICS FOR THIS WEEK
CREATIVE 1/ Using Shakespeare’s exchanges between characters as a model, write a very short piece (around 10 lines) which has three separate characters confronting each other. Remember that the essence of good drama is conflict, so produce conflict in the first words the characters speak to each other. CRITICAL 2/ John Bell of Bell Shakespeare, in our discussion with him after the play, said that he felt the character of Jacques could have been left out of the play without leaving much of hole. Do a little research on the web on how important Jacques is to As You Like It. Quote 2 or three critics who argue for the fact that Jacques is an important spokesperson for Shakespeare’s theory of drama. 3/ Remember that you are permitted to create your own Blog Topic building on what we might have been doing in class and including relevant aspects of your own experience. The Language of Drama Lecture:
Drama Workshop on As You Like It: