Friday, 6 August 2010

As I Like It

I took the visiting daughter and granddaughter to see As You Like It at Trinity. A secret college garden is just the right place to perform this play. You don't need any special scenery. 

As You Like It is the play I know best. Or so I thought. There were lots of details I had forgotten. My favourite quote is when Jacques dances with Amiens in a circle and sings: "Ducdame, ducdame, ducdame". Amiens sings along and then suddenly asks: "What's that 'ducdame'?" Jacques: "'Tis a Greek invocation, to call fools into a circle". 

The reason I know the play so well is that my father once wrote a musical of it. It wasn't called a musical because musical was a bourgeois art form, alien to the progressive Soviet culture. But it was a musical, with lots of specially written, but very authentic song numbers, and it was performed by one of the most prestigeous theatres in Moscow. Or rather, was supposed to be performed. It was banned by the offical theatrical censorship. You may wonder why a Shakespeare play would be banned in the Soviet Union: nobody could accuse William of being an expressed anti-communist. But the play is about power; about a ruler usurping another's throne; about banishment and persecution. You could read a lot of ideology into it. And the audience did (as it did in Shakespeare's time actually). And so did the censors. 

But it went all the way to the dress rehearsal before it was closed down. And I sat at many rehearsals. And I knew all the songs - can sing them all today. I heard them being born. I heard them grow and mature and transform. I helped my father try out the duets. I sang and recorded Rosalind's epilogue. Then I heard them performed by real actors. And what actors! It was so exciting. 

Not that Shakespeare in the Gardens was not exciting. It's just that it brought back the memories.

1 comment:

canzonett said...

Munich's Sommertheater group did "As You Like It" as well this July - they play at the amphitheatre in Englischer Garten (which is really the perfect location for Shakespeare), but I managed to miss ALL performances this year, which is really sad. They'll be giving additional indoor performances in September, but that' simply not the same ...