Sunday, January 23, 2011

As You Like It

We're back, and this episode is about As You Like It

This episode's music is also from, available here, and performed by hammerklavier.

A good quote I forgot to mention:

"Love is merely a madness, and, I tell you, deserves
as well a dark house and a whip as madmen do".
- As You Like It, Act III, Scene II

Our next episode is about The Sonnets


  1. Just watched the recent RSC production of Hamlet with David Tennat and Patrick Stewart. Would you be able to do a Hamlet episode at some point as I would like your takes on the play. Thanks.

  2. This is a copy of the itunes review I did. I think you guys are probably pretty nice good people, so I feel bad being a bit harsh but I wanted to respond to your As You Like It episode because I was pretty put off by the episode. I am no scholar. I want to make that very clear. I am, however, a very passionate actor who works regularly in Classical theatres with relatively big houses in the United States. Here's the review...

    "I just listened to the As You Like It episode and while I think the guys doing this podcast are very well intentioned and have some tidbits of information that that are interesting, I found them to have a profoundly shallow and under researched perspective of the play. I cringed when I heard Carson say that Jaques’ famous 7 ages of man speech is said for “no apparent reason” and later when Jeff said, it “doesn’t seem to actually have a lot to do with what’s in the play”.

    This illustrates perfectly that these guys, no matter how well intentioned and positive in nature, really didn’t know what they were talking about. The speech comes, literally, directly out of Duke Senior’s line…

    “This wide and universal THEATRE
    Presents more woeful PAGEANTS than the SCENE
    Wherein we PLAY in.”

    The Duke is reflecting what they all just witnessed: Orlando admitting that he was only playing the part of a thief, but is really a gentleman; which was what interrupted Jaques begging the Duke to let him play the part of a fool. The only research you need to do in order to know that this is NOT just for “no reason” is to simply read the play.

    I could go on about a number of other moments in this episode I took issue with (particularly the suggestion that there is “never any real threat in this play”; WOEFULLY UNTRUE) but I’ll let this example stand for all. To say this particular speech “doesn’t seem to actually have a lot to do with what’s in the play” is to admit that you really missed an essential aspect of this play. Identity. There is struggle to define oneself through, or in spite of: education, heredity, gender, occupation, class, social setting, originality in love, and on and on. Shakespeare even takes it a step further at the end of the play with the Epilogue where in the actor playing the part of Rosalind unveils hers self (or himself) as an actor. Identity is an essential part of As You Like It.

    I say if you’re looking for educational insight look elsewhere. Sorry guys, you seem nice enough though."

  3. Good point on the speech's relevance to the conversation, but I stand by it's irrelevance to the story.

    All stories, or at least all good ones, are about identity. The specific ages of man he describes don't seem to particularly reflect on the events of the play.

    I'm curious what threat is present in the play. I hope you could elaborate on that point.

    Thanks for the review. I feel this episode was rather rushed, to be honest. I felt like we were taking too long between episodes, particularly after promising to release an episode every month.

  4. First of all, let me just say thanks so much for having the courage and openness to post and respond. I find that, as well as simply working so hard at such a noble endeavor ,to be so admirable. You have more courage than I do in my anonymity that’s for sure!

    Well, just a short response to your 7 ages point... The play is not responsible for reflecting upon itself and I don’t think that’s what is supposed to be happening here. The speech IS an event in the play not reflecting on one. Also, not 100% sure I agree that all good plays are “about” identity. They certainly rely upon it for storytelling, no doubt, but rarely are they so actively about EXPLORING identity like this one is. The speech is just one of the many events in the play where one character explores identity in his or her own way.

    Threats in the play (in no particular order)...

    -Oliver tries to get Charles to break Orlando’s neck by saying Orlando will poison him if he doesn’t.

    –Oliver then plans on burning Orlando to death in his sleep, as well as “other practices” if that fails.

    -Charles has SEVERELY beaten 3 guys who lie on the verge of death before he wrestles Orlando (who says that if he loses he is "but one dead that is willing to be so").

    -Rosalind is banished on pain of death.

    -Duke Senior's speech about the elements being better counselors than people suggests that living in the woods is not so easy as one might think.

    -threat of robbery & rape forces Rosalind to dress as a man ("beauty provoketh thieves sooner than gold")

    -Adam is on the verge of death due to starvation.

    -Orlando is pressed to rob people at sword point, a thing he swore he would not do in an earlier scene.

    -Duke Frederick seizes all of Oliver’s land and fortune and tells him to bring back Orlando dead or alive within a year, if not he will have a death sentence on his head.



    In fact as far as Shakespearean comedies go, this one has more threats of danger and violence than most! Desperation and the threat of death itself drives most of the major choices made in this play. Yes you can underplay these if you want a fluffy light production, but I think done well, As You Like It starts out almost a tragedy and finds it’s way into comedy.

    Again, thanks so much for engaging with me on this. I hope I didn’t come off too disrespectful.

    All the best luck and success!

  5. also, one more thing...
    the threat to society at large! People have fled the comforts of the court into the wilderness and the unknown, due to the tyranny of Duke Frederick's oppression.

    Threats abound in this comedy!

  6. Hi! I'm a 54-year-old Canadian journalist. Thanks for the podcasts. Since finding them on Itunes I've listened to one each morning whilst lying in bed. A couple of things: Who are you guys and how do you know so much about Shakespeare? The casts are very well done but might I suggest that you slow your pace a bit as sometimes, especially when reading Willy's text, the read is a bit quick and hard to follow.

    Might I suggest you do Timon of Athens? Also, I understand Shakespeare's plays can be roughly divided into two, the lighter more optimistic first lot and the second group characterized by darkness and pessimism. Why? What happened to Willy? Did he suddenly wake up and see the world as it is? Maybe this is a show. I am aware that we don't know much about him so it may be tough.

    In any event please keep them coming as I am living in fear that I will run out of episodes.

    All the best

  7. Comments everywhere!

    First, I meant to say that the danger was gone once we leave the city. Although there are dangers in the forest, there's little possibility that things won't work out once they are into the forest. Your summary as a change from tragedy to a Comedy is apt. I've been meaning to talk about how Shakespeare will trick people about genre. I certainly hope we're done with that entire issue :P

    Mike, we intend to do every Shakespeare play. The most popular theory about Shakespeare's "dark period", or whatever you want to call it, is that it was caused by the death of Shakespeare's son, Hamnet.

    If you're listening to one episode a night, I'm afraid we cannot keep up with your rate.

    I keep meaning to slow down my talking, I talk fast when I'm panicking.

    We have no special credentials or authority, everything's available at your local library and Internet.

  8. Just a comment to the earlier poster, I pretty much agree with you that we somewhat misinterpreted the connection between Jacques' speech and the play as a whole, though Jacques does seem at most times throughout the play to be disconnected from everyone else in mood. As to threats in the play, you are right in that it is harder to notice them when watching a 'fluffy light' performance, and we are colored by whichever versions we've seen, especially those we first saw, in my case, the Branagh version, where it is difficult to find any threats beyond the opening truly credulous.

    To our Canadian responder, as to who we are, just a couple of mid-20s layabouts trying to strike it big. As for knowing so much about Shakespeare, I took one class in college, and generally look at a couple sources before we do the podcast, see some version of the play, or more than one if we're lucky, and then act like I know something. Carson makes things sound better in editing by taking out all the "uh... er... um..." stuff.

  9. To Carsonist: I worked in radio for many years hence my attention to reading speed. When you are talking the speed is fine. It's only when either of you read, say, from a soliloquy, that the speed becomes problematic. The language is dense, so whilst one is digesting a line the next one comes crashing into it, hot on its heels as they say.

    Jeffinated: Nothing like honesty. I hope both of you do strike it big. I must say that I was surprised that you're mid-twenties and research everything yourselves. The show comes across as two vets who have been on radio for twenty years. Together you have a perfect flow, one picks up from the other in a very natural way which is unusual. You two are a natural combination, almost, 'one soul in two bodies' talking about Shakespeare.

    Another show idea I had was 'Shakespeare's legacy,' focusing on the huge number of phrases and words he invented which are commonly used today. What are they? Why is this so?

    Best Mike (waiting for Timon)

  10. Hi guys. I'm Jamie from Colchester in England. I just wanted to say thank you for your podcasts. I've been listening to them over the last four weeks. I found them on iTunes. My favourite Shakespeare plays are Hamlet, R&J, that Scottish one, A Midsummer's Night Dream, Much Ado About Nothing, Richard III, and Henry V - but there are so many I have to discover. I decided that this year that's exactly what I would do. Thank you for helping me in my quest. I love the way that Carson seems to pick up Jeff and every single point he can, and seems too to disagree with almost every opinion he states. Equally I love the way that Jeff just brushes this off, usually with an "Ok." Keep it up guys. Please do Twelfth Night, that's the one I'm working on now.

  11. You guys are awesome, I love your podcasts, and have been hanging out for one about the sonnets for ages (though I know one of you doesn't like them at all)
    You have let me rediscover shakespeare, and because of lack of space on my iphone, I only carry your podcasts and a prarie home companion on it, the rest of other people's podcasts I leave on my computer and can't listen to them when I'm mobile.

  12. I just purchased tickets for an April run of As You Like It at the Denver Center for the Performing Arts, so very much yay for this episode! I'm happy you're back for a second season--I love this podcast. :)

    Also...I heard mention on one of the first podcasts you guys did about a Star Trek/Shakespeare episode?? I honestly don't know how much broad appeal that would have, but I kind of don't care because it's all about me and that sounds AWESOME.

  13. Unfortunately, it turns out there's only a couple Shakespeare references in Star Trek. It's like Nazis, you think they're everywhere in Star Trek, but it's just a couple famous references. We still may do it some day.

  14. Is there any reason why the "Shakespeares England" show wont download from itunes. Please have a look cos I have gone through the rest and would like to hear what it says.

    Keep up the excellent work.

  15. Why don't you guy post a photo taken during a recording session? Might be cool, no?

  16. We don't want to frighten the children!