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As You Like It (Shakespeare in Performance) Hardcover
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As You Like It (Shakespeare in Performance) Hardcover

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As You Like It (Shakespeare in Performance) Hardcover

As you like it examines the modern performance history of one of Shakespeare's best-loved and most enduring comedies, and one that has given opportunities for generations of theatre-makers and theatre-goers to explore the pleasures of pastoral, gender masquerade and sexual ambiguity. Powered by Shakespeare's greatest female comic role, the play invites us into a deeply English woodland that has also been imagined as a space of dreams. Beginning with the situation of the play in the context of early modern rehearsal and theatre practice, the book's seven chapters successively examine the rich interplay between performance histories, changing relations with the natural world, and gender politics.

Drawing upon extensive original archival research, the study retrieves the backstage stories of stage productions in Britain, France and Germany, which include Royal Shakespeare Company productions starring Vanessa Redgrave (1961), Eileen Atkins (1973) and Juliet Stevenson (1985), the ground-breaking all-male productions at the National Theatre in 1967 and by Cheek by Jowl in 1992, and the versions directed by Jacques Copeau in Paris in 1934, and by Peter Stein in Berlin in 1977. It also addresses the four major screen versions of the play: Paul Czinner's 1936 film, starring Elisabeth Bergner and Laurence Olivier; the 1978 BBC/Time-Life Television Shakespeare version; Christine Edzard's 1992 film set in contemporary London, and Kenneth Branagh's orientalised fantasy version of 2006. The final chapter offers a personal account of a performance of As You Like It witnessed at Shakespeare's Globe at the end of the summer of 2015: more than an open-air encounter with a play in a setting contrived to re-imagine its place and moment of origin, it provides the book's final word on a performance history that is stranger and more eventful than it seems.

The book will be of interest to scholars, teachers, students and lovers of Shakespeare, and to theatre-goers and theatre-makers.

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