The Royal Shakespeare Company has revealed the complete company joining previously announced Tony Award nominee Geraldine James (Anne with an E) in the upcoming production of As You Like It.
Director Omar Elerian (Misty) commented: “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.”
James is set to make her RSC debut as Rosalind, and will be joined by Celia Bannerman (as Phoebe), Maureen Beattie (as Celia), Michael Bertenshaw (as Oliver), Hannah Bristow (as Player), Oliver Cotton (as Jacques), David Fielder (as Silvius), James Hayes (as Touchstone), Tyreke Leslie (as Player), Mogali Masuku (as Player), David Sibley (as Corin), Malcolm Sinclair (as Orlando), Robin Soans (as Duke Senior / Duke Frederick / Hymen), Cleo Sylvestre (as Audrey), Ewart James Walters (as William / Charles the Wrestler) and Rose Wardlaw (as Player).
With regard to the younger members of the cast, Elerian said: “The four younger members of the company will act as understudies as well as participating in the act of conjuring the memory of this long gone production of As You Like It. Script in hand and ready to spring into action, they will complement with their youthful exuberance the mastery of their more experienced colleagues in a playful and touching encounter between generations.”
The creative team also includes designer Ana Inés Jabares Pita, lighting designer Jackie Shemesh, composer Will Gregory, sound designer Elena Peña, movement directors Annabel Arden and Jos Houben, creative associate Tim Crouch and casting director Matthew Dewsbury CDG.
As You Like It will run at the Royal Shakespeare Theatre in Stratford-upon-Avon from 17 June to 5 August, with a press night scheduled for 27 June.