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Home :: Archive :: 2001 :: January ::
Re: Orlando
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 12.0026  Friday, 5 January 2001

[1]     From:   Susann Suprenant <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 3 Jan 2001 10:14:30 -0600
        Subj:   Re: SHK 12.0014 Is Orlando as dumb as he seems

[2]     From:   Paul Swanson <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 03 Jan 2001 11:21:16 -0500
        Subj:   Re: SHK 12.0018 Re: Orlando

[3]     From:   Michele Bolay <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 3 Jan 2001 13:02:52 -0500 (EST)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 12.0014 Is Orlando as dumb as he seems?

[4]     From:   Stephanie Hughes <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 03 Jan 2001 21:24:08 +0000
        Subj:   Re: SHK 12.0014 Is Orlando as dumb as he seems?

[5]     From:   William Liston <
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        Date:   Thursday, 04 Jan 2001 11:00:33 -0500
        Subj:   Re: SHK 12.0014 Is Orlando as dumb as he seems


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Susann Suprenant <
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Date:           Wednesday, 3 Jan 2001 10:14:30 -0600
Subject: 12.0014 Is Orlando as dumb as he seems?
Comment:        Re: SHK 12.0014 Is Orlando as dumb as he seems?

Regarding John Marwick's question about a cutting/ character doubling /
minimalist presentation of As You Like It:

Recently I directed a production of As You Like It (retitled Ganymede's
Table in its adapted form) with four actors as "players."  I used two
men and two women (and a table). Roughly this worked out to

     #1 Player (woman) --Rosalind (Ganymede) / Duke Senior / Oliver
     #2 Player (man) --Orlando / Audrey
     #3 Player (woman) --Celia (Aliena) / Courtier
     #4 Player (man) --Touchstone / Charles / Adam / Duke Frederick /
Jacques

Each player was a sort of allegorial/humoral cabaret performer so, yes,
the player performing Orlando knew what the player performing Rosalind
was up to.  And so did the other two, who enjoyed watching.  The text
for Ganymede's Table was a pared down AYLI + period songs with the
scenes mostly in order except that the forest table scenes 2.5 + 2.7
(from Orlando's entrance) were placed as the first scene.

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Paul Swanson <
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Date:           Wednesday, 03 Jan 2001 11:21:16 -0500
Subject: 12.0018 Re: Orlando
Comment:        Re: SHK 12.0018 Re: Orlando

Personally, I think the argument that Orlando recognizes Rosalind is
questionable at best. But if this indeed is true, we perhaps have an
intriguing connection with Sonnet 138, where the speaker praises the
inherent dishonesty of his relationship with his mistress:

When my love swears that she is made of truth
I do believe her, though I know she lies,
That she might think me some untutor'd youth,
Unlearned in the world's false subtleties.
Thus vainly thinking that she thinks me young,
Although she knows my days are past the best,
Simply I credit her false speaking tongue:
On both sides thus is simple truth suppress'd.
But wherefore says she not she is unjust?
And wherefore say not I that I am old?
O, love's best habit is in seeming trust,
And age in love loves not to have years told:
   Therefore I lie with her and she with me,
   And in our faults by lies we flatter'd be.

Of course, this doesn't really work with Orlando-Rosalind, does it? On
the other hand, Orlando can certainly be played as an "untutor'd youth."
Quite simply, this is the very nature of his relationship with Ganymede:
he is learning the art of love.

I guess this means that Rosalind is promiscuous... Let's see Harold
Bloom beat THAT insight.

Paul Swanson

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Michele Bolay <
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Date:           Wednesday, 3 Jan 2001 13:02:52 -0500 (EST)
Subject: 12.0014 Is Orlando as dumb as he seems?
Comment:        Re: SHK 12.0014 Is Orlando as dumb as he seems?

The two cents of John Bowe, who played Orlando in the 1980 RSC
production, directed by Terry Hands:

"I was often asked if Orlando realized that it was Rosalind with whom he
was playing in the forest. It never crossed my mind once. I had only
seen her briefly at the wrestling, and although I fell in love with her,
trying to recall her face was not easy. Certainly there was a
resemblance, and I talk of it to the Duke, her father:

        'My lord, the first time that I ever saw him,
         Methought he was a brother to your daughter.'
         (AYLI 5.4.28-9)

But to mark that would only have been a distraction in the scenes
between Rosalind and Orlando in our second half...He is infatuated with
the memory of a girl he only saw for a few minutes when he was fighting
for his life in the wrestling match..."

This is from the wonderful book *Players of Shakespeare: Essays on
Shakespearean Performance by Twelve Players with the Royal Shakespeare
Company*, edited by Philip Brockbank.

Good luck with your production!

Michele Bolay

[4]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Stephanie Hughes <
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Date:           Wednesday, 03 Jan 2001 21:24:08 +0000
Subject: 12.0014 Is Orlando as dumb as he seems?
Comment:        Re: SHK 12.0014 Is Orlando as dumb as he seems?

> And has anyone seen it played where Orlando knows that Ganymede is
> really Rosalind.
>
> This idea came from reading Harold Bloom who says "When Ganymede plays
> Rosalind in order to rehearse Orlando in life and love, are we to assume
> that her lover does not recognise her?" (Shakespeare: The invention of
> the human, Fourth Estate, London, 1999.  p 221) He goes on to say that
> "Aside from straining credulity it would be an aesthetic loss if Orlando
> were not fully aware of the charm of his situation."

Bloom may be missing another level of "charming" innuendo. Because
female actors now play the parts of women in the plays, a subtle sexual
overtone (or perhaps not so subtle) is lost that was present in the days
when boys played women. When the plot required that female characters
dress as men, the audience was actually watching boys playing boys, not
women playing boys, as we see today. Elizabethan boy actors may have
been excellent at playing girls, but they would have been even more
believable playing boys.

The audience may have known that it was supposed to be seeing a woman in
love with Orlando pretending to be a boy, but it couldn't help but be
aware at the same time that it was watching a boy who, "in love" with
Orlando, was pretending to be a woman pretending to be a man. And just
in case somebody might have missed this threefold gender-bending,
Shakespeare has Rosalind give herself the name of Jove's boy lover,
Ganymede.

Tch tch. Naughty Shakespeare! Naughty Elizabethans!

Stephanie Hughes

[5]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           William Liston <
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Date:           Thursday, 04 Jan 2001 11:00:33 -0500
Subject: 12.0014 Is Orlando as dumb as he seems?
Comment:        Re: SHK 12.0014 Is Orlando as dumb as he seems?

Orlando may not recognize Rosalind's femininity, but in last summer's
RSC production (now in London, I think), Corin was probably not fooled.
On first meeting, he hesitated to address her as 'Sir,' and later made
clear, with a long pause, that he doubted that Master Ganymede was his
'new mistress's . . .  brother' (3.2.87).

In the same production, Phoebe put her hand on Ganymede's breast on
their first meeting, and noticed nothing unusual.

Nevertheless, I have seen productions in which Oliver, in helping
Rosalind after her fainting in 4.3, also touches Ganymede's breast and
immediately catches on to her disguise.

On Orlando's general intelligence, 3.2 is largely a series of 2-handed
wit combats.  Corin, with his simple common-sense, outwits Touchstone
(11-87), and then Orlando outwits Jaques (253-294).  Probably outwits is
the wrong word, but both Corin and Orlando are secure in their common
sense, not to be bamboozled by pretenses (maybe) or superficial
learning.  Both Celia and Rosalind observe the Jaques-Orlando encounter,
and that fact is important, I think, in confirming Rosalind's attraction
to Orlando.  He can hold his own in a wit-combat with the man considered
the most learned in the play.  He is worthy or her.

Bill Liston
 

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