Celia and Rosalind—Rosalind and Celia—are not just a retread of Helena and Hermia from A Midsummers Night’s Dream. Their identities, though bound to and mirrored in each other, also clash, and not over the ways they’re alike. Power, from the outset, between the two women is up for grabs, but not in standard competition. There’s no object of mimetic desire suspended between them, and they’re no subject of someone else’s. The power exists only between them and can only be granted from one to the other.
The question then, is, how to play them?
Sophie Thompson played both the roles of Celia and Rosalind, in succession with different companies. According to her essay, Rosalind (and Celia) in As You Like It, having played Celia before taking on the role of Rosalind informed how she embodied Rosalind. As the characters are so intertwined throughout the play this is hardly surprising. But did the playing of Celia impact how Thompson played Rosalind in a beneficial way? Continue reading
It is not uncommon for directors, both film and theater alike, to perform a Shakespeare play in modern or non-Elizabethan settings with atypical casting choices, and the comedy As You Like It is no exception. Looking through twenty-first century adaptions of As You Like It, I noticed an interesting commonality between two recent film versions of the play (Kenneth Branagh’s 2006 production and Marika Sonja Cotter’s 2012 version titled LOVE: As You Like It): the De Boys characters were played by black men. Continue reading
Celia exposes the performative aspect of romantic love, in which the practice, language and theatrics are not a natural response to falling in love; instead, the feeling of love is preceded by, created by, this performance. The performance is put together using a repertoire of learned conventions, myths, cultural aphorisms, and meaningless clichés, each one selected and appropriated when needed to perpetuate the love narrative. Continue reading