The Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC) has announced full casting for As You Like It.
Promising to be a playful and provocative new take on Shakespeare’s comedy, rediscovering the play’s themes of freedom and love from the perspective of older age, the production is directed by Omar Elerian (The Chairs – Complicité at the Almeida).
As You Like It runs at the Royal Shakespeare Theatre in Stratford-upon-Avon from 17 June to 5 August 2023.
As already announced, veteran stage and screen actor Geraldine James (Anne with an E, Calendar Girls) will star as Rosalind. Joining her will Malcolm Sinclair (My Fair Lady, Casino Royale) as Orlando, with Maureen Beattie playing Celia.
The full cast is Celia Bannerman (Phoebe), Maureen Beattie (Celia), Michael Bertenshaw (Oliver), Hannah Bristow (Player), Oliver Cotton (Jacques), David Fielder (Silvius), James Hayes (Touchstone), Geraldine James (Rosalind), Tyreke Leslie (Player), Mogali Masuku (Player), David Sibley (Corin), Malcolm Sinclair (Orlando), Robin Soans (Duke Senior/Duke Frederick/Hymen), Cleo Sylvestre (Audrey), Ewart James Walters (William / Charles the Wrestler) and Rose Wardlaw (Player).
Challenging the stereotypes and pre-conceptions associated with growing older, this playful and provocative new take on As You Like It features a company of actors most of whom are aged over 70.
The stage of the production will be transformed into a simple rehearsal room, with the actors gathering to conjure up the memory of a long gone show and celebrate the magic of theatre and its unique power to make our imagination soar.
Director Omar Elerian said in a press statement: “When the RSC got in touch about directing the play, I was really keen to explore it from a fresh and new perspective; I was also hoping to work with actors who had a huge experience, of both Shakespeare and life. Much as the play is traditionally associated with young love, I feel there’s something really powerful in rediscovering the themes of freedom and love from the perspective of older age. I’ve therefore cast the play almost exclusively with performers who are past the age of 70. Allowing the actors’ age to be both very present in the audience’s mind and yet be forgotten throughout the production feels to me like one of the most immediate demonstrations of how theatre can be a place of wondrous possibilities and imagination – not only to seek escape from the relentlessness of our daily lives – but also to create a sort of literal, communal ‘compassion’ for our shared humanity.”
Joining Omar in the creative team are Ana Inés Jabares Pita (Designer), Jackie Shemesh (Lighting), Will Gregory (Music), Elena Peña (Sound), Annabel Arden and Jos Houben (Movement), Tim Crouch (Creative Associate) and Matthew Dewsbury CDG (Casting Director).