December 1-3
    The comedy where love letters, maidens in disguise and the occasional sheep proves that love at first sight does exist and not merely a madness.
    December 1-3, 2017    Shakespeare Biography
       Audition Info Shakespeare Monologues
      Verse vs. Prose Playing the Punctuation

    Plot Synopsis

    ACT 1, wherein we meet our characters.  ROSALIND and CELIA are cousins and best friends, like sisters, but Celia's father, DUKE FREDERICK, has overthrown his elder brother's court, banishing DUKE SENIOR, Rosalind's father.  Rosalind is bummed.  Meanwhile, across town, two of the sons of the dead Sir Rowland de Boys (named because all of his kids are boys) are locked in a never-ending struggle.  The oldest son, OLIVER, hates his youngest brother, ORLANDO, with a passion he cannot explain and in Orlando's opinion treats the animals on the estate better.  Orlando decides to throw all caution into the wind and wrestle CHARLES in a match at Duke Frederick's court.  Oliver warns Charles that Orlando is such a horrible person that he will try all sorts of dirty tricks to win.  But Orlando wouldn't do that, right?  He's the hero.  At the match Rosalind and Celia meet Orlando, and Orlando and Rosalind play at smitten kittens with each other.  Orlando defeats Charles, angering Duke Frederick.

    ACT 2, wherein things get worse at home, so the people we like take off for the woods.  Celia and Rosalind are discussing how hot Orlando is when Duke Frederick enters and tells Rosalind she has 10 days to denounce her banished father or be killed.  Celia asks her papa not to preach, Rosalind is family and loved by all.  Celia then convinces Rosalind to escape to the woods:  Rosalind will disguise herself as a boy, GANYMEDE, and Celia will accompany her, in disguise as Ganymede's sister, ALIENA.  This is Shakespeare; it always works.  Celia will convince the fool TOUCHSTONE to accompany them.  Meanwhile, back at de Boys house, Orlando learns from ADAM/MADAM that Oliver plans to set fire to Orlando's quarters this very night, burning him alive, because he hates him that much and because Orlando won the wrestling match.  Orlando decides to leave for the woods, and Adam/Madam convinces him to take her old feeble body along with him.  In the forest, we meet Duke Senior, who's been yukking it up with his band of Merry Men, including AIMENS and the FIRST and SECOND LORD, and his Not-So-Merry-Man, JAQUES.  They all think living in the forest is grand, especially Jaques.  Rosalind, Celia and Touchstone are beaten down by their journey, but they see CORIN, an old shepherd, and SILVIUS, a young one, who is so wrapped up in some girl named PHOEBE, he sees little else.  Rosalind and Celia convince Corin to sell them a house.  Orlando and Adam/Madam are also beaten down by their journey, but it has nearly killed Adam/Madam.  Orlando goes to seek food and water for his beloved servant and runs across Duke Senior and his gang.  After Orlando threatens to kill them, the good Duke invites the travellers to feast with all the country folk.  At the feast, we are introduced to the last of our principal characters and we begin to see all the relationships that will tie themselves up in the second half of the play; we flash over to the court where we see Duke Frederick send Oliver into the forest to return their wayward family members.

    ACT 3, wherein love proves to be a madness.  Orlando, now at peace and in a good place, turns his mind towards love and has spent his time writing love letters to Rosalind, whom he met at the wrestling match.  He has taken to putting these love letters on every tree.  Jaques in not pleased.  Rosalind, Celia and Touchstone are, because these love letters are comedy gold.  They contain awful love poems that the others mock and tease Rosalind over.  When Orlando encounters the group, Ganymede/Rosalind convinces him that maybe Ganymede could pretend to be Rosalind (pretty tricky) to help Orlando practice his wooing to win over his beloved.  They plan to meet.  Touchstone has gone off to see AUDREY, the goat herder he met at the feast.  He is ready to get busy, and she is too, but she wants to be married first.  As a back up plan, Touchstone has arranged for the local minister, SIR OLIVER MARTEXT, to oversee the nuptials.  Martext is a drunk and Jaques convinces the Touchstone and Audrey of them to wait, much to Touchstone's chagrin.  He'd prefer not to be married.  Rosalind and Celia are waiting for Orlando to come to his first lesson, when they get to meet Silvius and his beloved PHOEBE.  As Silvius pursues her, it becomes quite obvious that Phoebe wants nothing to do the lad.  He's very clingy.  Instead, the second she sees Ganymede, she falls instantly in love.  Madness!

    ACT 4, wherein the love games increase and tragedy reminds us that time is fleeting.  Orlando visits Ganymede/Rosalind for his first lesson in wooing Rosalind, taught by Rosalind.  Celia finds this delightful.  They make plans to meet the next day.  Then Orlando runs across a sleeping Oliver, and as her turns to go, a lion attacks.  Because.  He fends off the lion, severly injuring himself, but waking Oliver in time to see his brother's selfless act.  Oliver takes Orlando away to recuperate.  When Orlando misses his next dating lesson, Oliver arrives to tell Ganymede/Rosalind what is up.  Oliver and Celia lock eyes and love blooms, again.  As Rosalind recovers from her shock (she fainted at the sight of Orlando's bloody handkerchief), she determines that she must end this nonsense.

    ACT 5, wherein knots are untied, disguises are shelved and familes are reunited.  Touchstone, desperate to bed Audrey decides fighting for her love will get her to sleep with him.  He goes to fight young WILLIAM for her love; where his planned display of physical prowess does not go as expected.  Orlando forgives his brother and blesses the union between Oliver and Aliena/Celia.  Ganymede/Rosalind asks Orlando and Phoebe and Silvius to all meet at the wedding of Oliver and Aliena (and Touchstone and Audrey) where he/she will assure that Orlando will get ot marry Rosalind and Silvius will get to marry Phoebe.  A song is sung, either to Jaques about a dead deer or to Touchstone and Audrey about the promise of spring.  All of the forest people gather at the wedding, where HYMEN the god of marriage (don't ask) appears, Ganymede reveals himself to be Rosalind, Aliena reveals herself to be Celia, Oliver and Orlando's brother JAQUES DE BOYS--yes there are two Jaques in the play--arrives to tell everyone that Duke Frederick has seen the error of his ways and has joined a monastery, four couples get married, Jaques decides to joins Frederick at the monastery and everybody dances and sings.


      Character Breakdowns  

    Rosalind was once happy.  Her father was the rightful duke of the land, but once his wicked brother took over the country and banished her father, Rosalind has struggled ever since.  She refuses to submit to the will of her uncle, and renounce her father, like the rest of the country has done.  Her only happiness:  her beloved cousin, Celia.  Her sadness will not dampen her spirit; she is a bright, forward and determined to make lemonade out of life’s lemons.  Being with Celia helps; meeting Orlando is better.  He may be her everything; he’s certainly dreamy enough.

    Rosalind       Rosalind

    Celia is tired of being the beautiful doll on the shelf.  When her father was just another lord, her beloved cousin, Rosalind, was everyone’s focus, but now that her father usurped her uncle’s throne, she bristles at the constant attention.  She rebels by flirting, by being funny, and eventually by running away.  Many things come easy to Celia, so she takes very few things seriously.  She takes control by puncturing the things in control.  What happens when she meets the one thing she cannot control, her sudden overwhelming feelings for Oliver?

    Celia       Celia

    Orlando              Orlando Orlando does not know how he got to this point.  When his father died, his eldest brother, Oliver, was to look after him and see that he was schooled and raised a proper gentleman.  Instead he feels that Oliver treats the horses better.  Eager to prove himself to anyone or anything, he throws himself into the wrestling match with Charles.  He throws himself into most things.  When he meets Rosalind, he throws himself full on into love.  His impulsiveness may get him into far deeper trouble than he expects.  
    Oliver             Oliver

    When Oliver’s father died, he left Oliver in charge of the rearing of his two younger brothers.  A young man, desperate to make his own way in the world, does not a good caregiver make.  He sent the middle brother off to school, but his contempt for his youngest brother, Orlando, has grown to a hatred that Oliver can’t quite explain.  He hates him with such passion it is scary.  But that passion can easily take other forms, too, like if he were to suddenly be confronted with the most beautiful woman he has ever seen.

    Jaques                              Jaques Jaques chose to join Duke Senior in exile.  Since coming to the forest, he has progressively become more detached and forlorn.  His general demeanor of sadness has earned him the nickname Monsieur Melancholy.  Why is he sad?  Is it for the life he lost in the courtly world?  Or is it for the life misspent there?  Has he become so enamored of the pastoral life, of the natural world, of the country way of living that the thought of man’s intrusion into that Garden of Eden angers, frustrates and disappoints him?  

    Audrey is a goat herder.  Goats are simple.  Goats go where they want when they want.  Goats eat what they want, drink what they want, love what they want.  Audrey likes goats.  Audrey is simple.  Audrey goes where she wants whenever she wants.  Audrey eats what she wants, drinks what she wants, loves who she wants.  She knows that she is supposed to be a “good girl”--everyone has always told her what was right and wrong.  So, why does wrong feel so right?

    Audrey                  Audrey  
    Touchstone                          Touchstone Touchstone is the jester in Duke Frederick’s court.  His life is there for the merriment of others, in turn he seeks merriment only in his life.  He pursues all worldly pleasures and comforts.  In atypical Shakespearean fashion, this fool is not the wisest character in the play, in fact he is oft times the most ridiculous, given as he is to be prone to his baser wants and needs whether they be food, drink or sex.  
    Duke Senior          Duke Senior
    Rosalind’s father is a charismatic leader who engenders respect and devotion from all who listen to him.  Even though his court was overthrown and he was exiled to the Forest of Arden, his winning personality and leadership remained and he has become the de facto Duke of the Forest.  He gains followers every day.  He could be content living the rest of his days in the forest, but he misses his daughter terribly and wants to reunite.  
    One of the first to join with Duke Senior when he was banished, Aimens has become one of his closest confidants.  Their relationship has mellowed into a comfortableness that belies their attraction to each other.  They’re the sort of folks who end up married because they can’t imagine spending a day without the other.  Aimens may have been a court singer before as she sings several of the solos in the show. Aimens            Aimens  
    Duke Frederick              Duke Frederick
    Celia’s father and jealous younger brother to Duke Senior, Frederick usurps his brother’s crown and rules unhappily, fearful that someone may now take the power from him.  He demands that Rosalind swear loyalty to him and not her father, and if she doesn’t he is ready to execute her.  When his precious daughter escapes with her cousin, he is racked with madness, desperate to find them and return his daughter to his side.  This role will be played by the actor playing Duke Senior.  
    Silvius                           Silvius A young shepherd who should be making the moves to own his own flock, but he is madly in love (lust?) with Phoebe.  He follows her like a puppy dog, no matter how she treats him.  When Phoebe declares her love for Ganymede (Rosalind), he pines still and is willing to take her back when she gets dumped.  Rosalind feels for the boy, perhaps be she recognizes he needs a guardian angel, as he impulsively leaps.  
    Phoebe is a shepherdess without her flock.  At loose ends, she refuses to follow the pack.  It would be simpler for her if she could just love Silvius, who pursues her endlessly.  But she just can’t.  Maybe it’s that he is too clingy; or maybe it’s that she wouldn’t be true to herself.  She is immediately smitten with the “pretty youth” Ganymede (Rosalind in disguise), though.  Phoebe’s free spirit thinks it knows what it wants, but may be surprised by what it needs. Phoebe        Phoebe  
    Corin                             Corin

    The old shepherd who is mentor to Silvius, counselor to Touchstone and real estate agent to Rosalind and Celia.  He speaks truthfully and honestly with a voice of experience.  He represents all the good that a life time in the country can do for the soul and the man.

    Servant to the de Boys family, she raised the three sons as if they were her own.  Appalled by the treatment of Orlando, the youngest, by his eldest brother, Oliver, she takes action, saving Orlando’s life.  Encouraging him to flee, she decides to join Orlando into the forest.  But she is old, and the journey may kill her. 

    Adam/Madam              Adam/Madam


     Additional Roles

    Madame LeBeau

    THE chief gossip in Duke Frederick’s court.  She is not above putting on airs and Celia and Rosalind are not above piercing them.

    Dennis One of the servants in the DeBoys house.  She is not above gossiping about her masters for good or ill.  
    Charles A wrestler who wrestles for sport in Duke Frederick’s palace and is gravely injured by Orlando

    First & Second Lord (The Palace)

    Two of the servants in Duke Frederick’s palace, tending to his daughter Celia and her cousin.  They spy on the young women.


    First & Second Lord (The Forest)

    Lords who fled with Duke Senior when he was banished; they’re his merry men.  
    Sir Oliver Martext
    A country minister called to service to marry Touchstone and Audrey.  Perhaps a bit of a drunk.  

    First & Second Pages

    Two converts to Duke Senior’s life in the forest.  They sing a song late in the show.  
    William A country bumpkin who is in love with Audrey  
    Jaques de Boys

    Orlando and Oliver’s middle brother.  Has been sent away from school.  Comes to the woods to tell the assembly that Duke Frederick has mended his evil ways and joined a monastery.


    Ensemble fills two roles:  court attendants during the city scenes, and country folk in the forest ones.  At court they attend the wrestling match and gossip about courtly matters.  In the woods, they celebrate the end of winter and the quadruple marriage at the end of the play.  They will sing and dance.



Last Modified on October 5, 2017