Arthur Enfield (Stained Glass) The Seven Ages of Man (Shakespeare As You Like It), State Library of NSW.
What a fabulous outcome! All our doubts, uncertainties, wrestling with difficult words, produced an amazing and satisfying presentation of sections of As You Like It. This was the culmination of our course Introduction to Literature which ran for 12 weeks: 4 weeks on poetry, 4 weeks on prose and finally 4 weeks on drama. And the drama chosen was of course Shakespeare’s As You Like It. Why “of course”? Because 1/ Shakespeare is a playwright who embodies prose, poetry and drama in the one text, so it becomes a culmination of all we have learned. 2/ Shakespeare is the greatest master of English Literature so it is wonderful to have an opportunity to begin to explore the reasons why this claim is so often made. 3/ Bell Shakespeare just happened to feature this play as part of their 2015 season and with John Bell in a leading role (as Jaques); we managed to get free tickets to this production through the generosity of Bell Shakespeare and the Hearts in a Row foundation. So it was a no-brainer for us to go and see the wonderful Bell production in April this year and then build our knowledge of Shakespeare on the back of that production. John Bell was so kind as to allow a discussion session with him after the show…
So these are the reasons we decided to spend our four drama weeks on As You Like It. We all had much fun and we all gained much understanding. We are all set now to explore more of Shakespeare at our leisure.
But before we launched into our production we had a showcase of some of the student Blogs for the semester. These presented: responses to their NSW Art Gallery visit – in which we try to show the links between literature and the visual arts; responses to poems studied in class; finally responses to the Bell Shakespeare production of As You Like It, together with responses to the visit to the Shakespeare Room in the State Library of NSW. Here are the blogs shown (click on Student Blog Samples 2015) and if you click on the link underneath the Blogs you can hear them read aloud with some commentary and audience response:
And after this Blog extravaganza we got right into As You Like It Act 2 Sc 7 and most of Act 5. Here is our practice curtain call: Here we are deep into rehearsal (this is around the 4th time through the whole segment. Here is a side view of the audience we had on the night.And here is our final curtain call: Mirrored as you can see on the final curtain call in Bell Shakespeare’s version at the Opera House: we were sitting just about in the front row.
And here is that sweet occasion where we got to speak to the cast about their experience of acting the play.
And here finally is one of the three wonderful stained glass panels in the Shakespeare Room in the State Library of NSW depicting three of the seven stages of man. Here it is the lover, the soldier and then “the justice, In fair round belly with good capon lined”: Overall it was a wonderful evening with a real sense of closure to a beautiful 12 weeks spent exploring literature with a group of students who were hungry for every word and who repaid all efforts by their willing participation and their joy in discussing and performing literary texts: Thank you all!