When we last left the (re-)sequencing of scenes in As You Like It, I had the order as:
- 2.4: Rosalind, Celia, and Touchstone arrive in Arden
- 3.1: Frederick interrogates Oliver regarding Orlando, sends him packing
- 2.6: Orlando and Adam arrive in Arden
- 2.7: Duke Senior and men are confronted with Orlando; “All the world’s a stage…”
- 3.2: Orlando in the woods; Rosalind, Touchstone, and Celia…then Orlando
This made it so that none of my multiple-character actors had too bad a transition or quick change between roles. Notice the modifier there: “multiple-character”… Yes, my friends, your director is a tunnel-visioned knuckle-head. Take a look at 2.7 and 3.2… Orlando walks off the stage with Duke Senior at the end of 2.7, and immediately enters alone, plastering his “poetry” on the trees in 3.2.
Oh, well, the solution is simple enough… simply slide 3.1 back to just before 3.2.
This accomplishes a couple of things:
- It gives us the pause for Orlando to start his writing binge.
- It allows Duke Frederick’s plan to seem like more of an obstacle or issue than it is. …and most importantly, …
- It allows for what I think could a cool scenic turning point in the play…
But first, some background: I’m not a big scenic design guy. I like a basic set, and by that I mean, I’m not big on a lot of set pieces that need to be moved on- and off-stage. I want the overall set to be evocative, but not overly “realistic.” Unsurprisingly, my general concept for As You Like It is pretty stripped down. A bare stage, with a flat background, onto which maybe some visuals could be projected (maybe not, too). I would like a two to four rotating pillars onstage, scattered both left to right and and varying depths on the stage. If viewed from above, they would look like triangles; when rotated, they would create for the the audience three different settings: the court of Duke Frederick (maybe looking like neoclassical columns), the de Boys estate (less formal, maybe more rustic, but still man-made), and the Forest of Arden (tree trunks).
So that’s the basics. What I’ve been thinking about, though, is one dominant set piece: a single huge tree, upstage center. It would not a be a realistic tree. It would most likely be a flat. Maybe it’s been laying on the floor face down through most of the action before, and raised by ropes, with its base on a hinge. Or maybe it’s been hidden in the horizontal wing above the stage, then flown in. It could even be a hanging drape. Regardless, I want it to appear once we are in Arden for good (in other words, after 3.1, and we never see the de Boys estate or Frederick’s court again).
Moving 3.1 to just before 3.2 would then put this one big staging change right before Orlando goes on his versified vandalism spree. It could look pretty cool. Of course, it could also be impossible to pull off, but we’ll see.