As You Like It: Sixth Form Play
When our group of 25 Sixth Formers gathered on a Monday afternoon at the beginning of September we had no idea what was in store for the next five weeks. Under the stellar direction of Miss Bedford our first Saturday rehearsal focused on comedy exercises and creating fight sequences. This proved to be an excellent bonding session for the weeks ahead as we got to grips with the Shakespearean syntax and opened our minds to a new way of approaching our chosen play: As You Like It.
The style of immersive theatre that we adopted was something that none of us had ever attempted before. The audience was seated in the middle of the action, often taking part and giving special meaning to the phrase, “All the world’s a stage!”. Many members of the audience read sonnets and some were smeared with lipstick or were cast in the starring role of the Moon in the play-within-a-play, Pyramus and Thisbe. In common with many Shakespearean plays, songs are incorporated throughout the script and Mr Geoghegan worked with the whole cast to create the numerous songs to help intensify the ‘hippie’ atmosphere of the Forest of Arden. This fully immersive experience proved extremely popular and every audience member felt engaged and excited by the constant action happening in their midst.
The modernisation of the play put it into vital political context - most notably transforming the character of Duke Frederick into Donald Trump - and made us all realise that there are themes of life that translate directly from the 16th century into the 21st. The bulk of the characters are forced into exile by a political evil that threatens their livelihood and they have to make a home in an unknown place where they eventually find comfort - a Shakespearian storyline that correlates directly with the Global challenges faced by us today. The principal role of Rosalind is perhaps Shakespeare’s strongest female character. She perfectly controls the forest world around her to orchestrate the happy ending accompanied (in our version) by The Beatles’ All You Need Is Love which was sang by cast, crew and audience alike…. before we all danced the Macarena! The cast and crew of students worked together seamlessly to create the magical experience that was this year’s Sixth Form play, ‘As You Like It’.