Shakespeare Uncovered (2012–…): Season 1, Episode 1 - The Comedies with Joely Richardson - full transcript

Joely Richardson investigates (with her mother Vanessa Redgrave) the legacy of these two brilliant cross-dressing comedies and the great comic and romantic heroines created by Shakespeare in two perennially popular plays.

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"What country,
friends, is this?"

That simple sentence

is from one of my favorite
Shakespearean plays.

What country, friends, is this?

RICHARDSON, VOICE-OVER: It's spoken by
Viola at the beginning of "Twelfth Night"

as she finds herself
washed up on a foreign shore.

For me, this play speaks
to all our hopes and dreams,

the chance to start again,

the prospect of a
whole new world.

Like all of Shakespeare's
happiest comedies,

in "Twelfth Night," we
witness new life, new laughs,



and eventually new love,

and at the center of this play

and driving the plots of all
of Shakespeare's comedies

are his extraordinary
comic heroines.

Most radiant, exquisite
and unmatchable beauty...

RICHARDSON, VOICE-OVER: In the
strangely dark comedy of "Twelfth Night,"

there's the
cross-dressing Viola.

And that question's
out of my part.

One of the things that
makes Shakespeare

an amazing dramatist, I think,

is his sympathy for
female characters.

I pray you, tell me
if this be the lady

of the house, for
I never saw her.

He creates these
fascinating, mischievous,



interesting, funny
female characters,

and there's kind
of no one like them

in dramatic history, really.

Are you a comedian?

No, my profound heart:

and yet, by the very
fangs of malice I swear,

I am not that I play.

One of the things that's
fabulous about Shakespeare

is the way he understand
the psychology of women,

or maybe creates the
psychology of women.

RICHARDSON, VOICE-OVER:
And few women in any drama

can match the heroine of
Shakespeare's sweetest

and most romantic comedy...
Rosalind in "As You Like It."

What said he? How looked he?

Wherein went he?
What makes him here?

Did he ask for me?
Where remains he?

How parted he with thee and
when shalt thou see him again?

Answer me in one word.

The sheer
sophistication, the verve,

the dramatic and verbal range
of Shakespeare's female parts

is quite unprecedented.

There's no doubt Shakespeare
loved strong women.

Thou bringest me out of tune.

Do you not know I am a woman?

When I think, I must speak.

In this film, I want to explore
how Shakespeare's comedies

still have the power
to entertain, enthrall,

and move us just like
they did 400 years ago.

Historically, people
have paid more attention

to Shakespeare's
tragedies and history plays

than this comedies, but
that's a huge mistake.

In terms of thinking about
what it is to be human,

what it is to live in
society, and, above all,

what it's like to live in
personal relationships...

Men and women
together, families...

The comedies are the
place where Shakespeare

really works that out
in a profound way.

RICHARDSON, VOICE-OVER:
Shakespeare has been part of my life

ever since I can remember.

Generations of my
family have fallen in love

with Shakespeare's
dramatic poetry

and have played some
of his most famous roles.

So here at the Old Vic,

one of the oldest theaters
in London from 1818,

I've always found it incredibly
exciting to be in theaters,

whether they're empty
or filled, obviously,

or watching a performance,
and the last performance

that I saw here of Shakespeare's
was "Twelfth Night,"

but it was here in 1937
that my grandfather

Sir Michael Redgrave was
doing a production of "Hamlet"

with Sir Laurence
Olivier playing Hamlet

and my grandfather
playing Laertes,

and at the curtain call,
Laurence Olivier stopped,

and he said to the audience,

"Ah, tonight a great
actress is born.

Laertes has a daughter,"

and that was the night my
mother Vanessa was born,

and it was announced
on this stage.

Dear Celia, I show more
mirth than I am mistress of;

and would you
yet I were merrier?

RICHARDSON, VOICE-OVER:
My mother Vanessa Redgrave

was just 24 and starting
out on her acting career

when she played Rosalind
in "As You Like It" in 1961.

What think you
of falling in love?

Marry, I prithee, do,
to make sport withal.

So, Mum, what was your first
experience of Shakespeare?

Was it reading it
or performing it?

Reading.

I found looking
along the bookshelf

because I learnt to
read when I was 4.

When I was around
7, I found something

called "The
Merchant of Venice"...

"That sounds
exciting"... And I opened it

and read it from
start to finish,

and I became
enthralled with the story

of this merchant and
Portia and Shylock.

I was really caught by
Portia's great speech...

"The quality of
mercy is not strain'd,

"It droppeth as the
gentle rain from heaven

Upon the place
beneath: it is twice blest"...

Because that, to my imagination,

sounded like what
should happen in life,

and I'd got a nanny who
somewhat punished me,

and I felt the quality
of mercy was missing.

Oh... Ha ha ha!

RICHARDSON,
VOICE-OVER: Given my family,

maybe it's not surprising
I ended up acting,

but in Shakespeare's
case, there was nothing

in his background to prepare
him for life in the theater.

Born in the rural
town of Stratford,

he first tried to make a living

running his father's
glove business.

By the tender age of 18,
he was already married

to an older woman...
Anne Hathaway.

It was a shotgun wedding.
She was 3 months pregnant.

The interesting
thing, is, of course,

that she was the right
age to be married at 26.

He was the one
who was all wrong.

He was 18, but he
was Shakespeare.

He wasn't an ordinary man.

He was an extraordinary
man, and I tend to think

it does him more credit to
think that he was attracted

to an extraordinary woman.

RICHARDSON, VOICE-OVER:
Extraordinary woman or not,

it seemed a very ordinary start
for the man who would become

the most famous
playwright in history.

Two years after the birth
of their daughter Susanna,

The Shakespeares has
twins, who were baptized

in Stratford Church
on February 2, 1585.

The children were named
Hamnet and Judith Shakespeare.

William, now father of 3,
was not yet 21 years old.

I think he was a very
ambitious young man.

He was clearly...

Obviously, he was a
very talented young man,

and I think he was
ambitious for literary fame,

and, of course, he wouldn't
have had much outlet for that

unless he'd gone to London.

He couldn't earn
a living in Stratford.

Stratford was a
town of 2,000 people.

Most towns of 2,000
people can't support a poet.

So I figure that
she said to him,

"Will, I can't bear
to see you like this.

There's no future for
you here. Go to London."

RICHARDSON, VOICE-OVER:
The next historical evidence

shows him working as an
actor in late 16th-century London.

So he had left his wife
and 3 children behind him.

I mean, what's special about
Shakespeare is the poetry.

To expect him to be a nice
bloke I think might be pushing it.

Is not your name,
sir, called Antipholus?

And is not that your
bondman Dromio?

RICHARDSON, VOICE-OVER: Certainly
almost as soon as he starts his new career,

Shakespeare seems to
demonstrate a precocious skill.

One of this very first plays
is "The Comedy of Errors."

This is someone who has a
consummate sense of theater

and theatrical value from
the moment he starts writing.

The structure of an early
play like "Comedy of Errors"

is phenomenal.

It's a farce,

and nobody puts a foot wrong
in terms of coming and going,

as the plot is always the
wrong person on stage

at the wrong time.

To be able to do that as,
technically, apprentice work

is astonishing.

RICHARDSON, VOICE-OVER:
And while Shakespeare's family

and his new twins might
have been out of sight,

they certainly don't
appear to be out of mind,

as twins are the central
point of life of this play.

I see two husbands.

There are occasional
twins elsewhere

in the drama of the period

inherited from the
classical tradition,

but no other writer is
as interested in twins

as Shakespeare is, and
that must, at some level,

be because he had twins himself.

Which of you two did
dine with me to-day?

I, gentle mistress.

And are not you my husband?

No.

Shakespeare uses
that as the basis

for his early comedy
"The Comedy of Errors,"

but in a typically
Shakespearean way,

he decides it's not enough
to have one pair of twins.

He has two.

So we get the
Antipholus brothers,

and then they each have
a slave called Dromio,

and they, too,
are identical twins.

So immediately, the
potential for comedy, for farce,

for mistaken
identity is doubled.

Methinks you are my
glass, and not my brother:

I see by you I am a
sweet-faced youth.

RICHARDSON, VOICE-OVER:
Shakespeare had written a hit comedy,

and when he returned
to the subject of twins

some 6 or 7 years
later in "Twelfth Night,"

it seems that his family
was even more on his mind.

The twins in this
play are, like his own,

a boy and a girl...
Viola and Sebastian...

but there was a tragic
dimension to the presence

of twins in this play.

In 1596, one of Shakespeare's
twins, his son Hamnet,

died at the age of 11.

We know so little
about that relationship

with his son, but it was such
a huge thing to have a son.

The son was the
vouchsafe of immortality,

the son, the heir, that
keeps the name going.

To have lost your only son,

it was an enormous
thing for Shakespeare.

Shakespeare's plays are
never directly autobiographical,

but all writers draw on their
own experience and feeling.

So it can't be a coincidence
that "Twelfth Night,"

this very bittersweet
comedy in which the idea

of the loss of a
brother is so central.

It can't be a coincidence
that that is written

only a few years after the death
of Shakespeare's only son Hamnet

who was one of a pair of twins.

Viola is a girl twin

who believes that
her brother is lost,

and that loss is central
to the mood of the play.

What country, friends, is this?

This is Illyria, lady.

And what should I do in Illyria?

My brother he is in Elysium.

The overlap between comedies
and tragedies is palpable.

Death hangs over
comedies frequently

just as much as it
concludes tragedies.

RICHARDSON, VOICE-OVER:
Alone in a foreign land,

her brother and protector
apparently drowned,

Viola, to preserve her safety,
chooses to disguise herself

as a man and seek
employment with the local duke...

The Governor of Illyria Orsino.

"Conceal me what
I am, and be my aid

"For such disguise
as haply shall become

"The form of my intent.

I'll serve this duke."

continue these favors
towards you, Cesario,

you are like to be
much advanced.

At the start of "Twelfth Night,"

you've got Viola dressing
up not just as a boy,

but as her brother.

You don't need to read Freud to
know where that's coming from.

I mean, Freud says classic
first stage of mourning is,

you want to incorporate
the lost person into yourself.

She does that in
terms of costume.

Give me some music.

RICHARDSON, VOICE-OVER:
Taking the name Cesario,

Viola succeeds in gaining
employment with the duke.

In several of the
comedies, a basic motif

is the idea that when
you go on a journey

to a new environment, a
dangerous environment,

disguise is often necessary,

and disguise becomes
a form of liberation.

You can sort of discover
yourself through disguise.

RICHARDSON, VOICE-OVER:
But whatever the self-discoveries,

much of the comedy
comes from the problems

the disguised
character encounters.

Viola, disguised as a man,

almost immediately
falls in love with the duke,

but she just can't show it, even
when the duke questions her

about the person
Cesario has fallen for.

What kind of woman is't?

Of your complexion.

She is not worth thee, then.

What years, i' faith?

About your years, my lord.

Too old by heaven.

RICHARDSON, VOICE-OVER: The
duke has no idea that this boy is a girl,

and just to complicate
matters further,

he is already in love
with another woman.

One of Shakespeare's
great themes,

the idea of falling in love
with the wrong person

or the idea that falling
in love with a person

who's fallen in love
with somebody else...

Come hither, boy.

It can be really dangerous

because, "A," it can
be really exposing,

but, "B," it can land you in
all sorts of strange situations

and untying them all
and making them resolve

is partly what makes these
plays so fascinating to watch.

My life upon't, young
though thou art,

thine eye

Hath stay'd upon
some favor that it loves.

The mask that she
puts on allows Viola,

even though she's
dressed as Cesario,

to lose her self-consciousness
a little bit and allows...

RICHARDSON, VOICE-OVER: At the replica
of Shakespeare's Globe Theatre in London,

actors are rehearsing
the scene in which Viola,

dressed as the boy Cesario,
talks to Orsino about love.

The question is whether
being disguised as a man

actually liberates her
to talk about her feelings

in a way she couldn't if
Orsino knew she was a woman.

It made me think, she got
the physical mask on her,

so maybe she doesn't have
to do anything emotionally

or mentally to kind of block
how she's actually feeling.

Is it the fact that here's a man

who is pontificating
about the pain that he's in

and all that kind of stuff?

Is that what it is?

I thought I'd come
in on the pain of love.

I thought that was a good cue.

See? Perfect.

RICHARDSON, VOICE-OVER:
I've come to sit in on rehearsals.

So where were you in the scene?

I'm really excited.

Young though thou art, thine eye

Hath stay'd upon
some favor that it loves:

Hath it not, boy?

A little, by your favor.

What kind of woman is't?

Of your complexion.

Heh. She is not
worth thee, then.

What years, i' faith?

About your years, my lord.

Ha ha! Too old by heaven.

It's a very direct response.

"What kind of woman is it?"

"Of your complexion."

It's kind of, "Oh, OK."

Off subject just a second

just because with the
whole subject of dressing up

and opposite sexes
and men playing women,

women playing men, et cetera,

and what does any of this mean,

and just talking and watching,
it suddenly occurred to me

that I think that the
general message

is that, you know,
age, gender, et cetera,

none of it matters, and
that's what's so useful

about the disguise because
we get to love each other best

just from one
essence to another.

Whatever might
happen in this scene

and whether this person is a boy

or this person is a girl,

as you say, is
sort of irrelevant.

She pricks his pomposity.

Yes, but then it goes
another layer, doesn't it,

because it's not only the
deception of disguises,

but our deceptions of ourselves

because then the person that
he does end up fully in love with

is next to him and
is none of the things

that he thinks he loves,

and that's why
it's all so clever,

because the story
surprises everyone,

including themselves.

RICHARDSON, VOICE-OVER: So now,
still oblivious to his servant's feelings,

Orsino instructs Cesario
to woo the woman he loves,

Olivia, on his behalf.

Get thee to yond
same sovereign cruelty.

Once more, Cesario,

Get thee to yond
same sovereign cruelty:

Tell her...

RICHARDSON, VOICE-OVER: The idea of
female characters dressing up as young men

may have been a comic device,
but it had practical advantages.

Just open it a little.

In Shakespeare's time,

women did not play
professional roles.

Professional
actresses weren't known

until 50, 60 years
after Shakespeare died,

and so female parts were
always played by men.

Do what women do
when they put lipstick on.

They go...

What, like that? Yes.

You've got boys
playing the part of girls.

If you can have a boy
playing the part of a girl

who then dresses up as a boy,

it becomes kind of
easier for your boy actors,

and it allows you to
make a series of jokes

about gender, cross-dressing,
boys playing girls.

RICHARDSON, VOICE-OVER: The tradition
of boys playing the parts of girls

continues to this day at
Dulwich College in South London.

It's a school which was founded

by one of Shakespeare's
contemporaries

and which may well
have trained boy actors

for the early
17th-century stage.

Today they are also
trying out the scene

in which Orsino
commands Viola as Cesario

to visit Olivia and
use his charms

to win her over
to Orsino's love.

The feather has got
broken since yesterday.

Cesario, address
thy gait unto her;

she never will admit me.

Shakespeare and the
audience always know

that Cesario is really Viola,
that the boy is really a girl...

For they shall yet belie...

But Shakespeare and
the audience also know

that Viola is
really a boy actor,

that the girl is really a boy.

So there's a lot of language
to do with impersonating

the voice of the other gender.

Thy small pipe is as
the maiden's organ,

shrill and sound.

There's a real fascination
with the sort of beautiful,

androgynous teenager that both
men and women fall in love with.

The honorable lady of
the house, which is she?

RICHARDSON, VOICE-OVER: Viola,

dressed as the
young man Cesario,

then has to visit Olivia
on the duke's behalf.

This will turn out
to be a crucial scene

in the unfolding narrative.

Viola is deeply conflicted.

In love with the duke herself,

she's now supposed to
persuade Olivia to accept his suit.

The honorable lady of
the house, which is she?

Speak to me; I
shall answer for her.

Your will?

Most radiant, exquisite
and unmatchable beauty...

I pray you, tell me if this
be the lady of the house,

for I never saw her:

I would be loath to
cast away my speech,

for besides that it is
excellently well penned,

I have taken great
pains to con it.

Well, now Viola is in a
very interesting situation

because she is, in
some ways, quite unfree.

Whence came you, sir?

I can say little more
than I have studied,

and that question's
out of my part.

She is trapped in her disguise.

She falls in love with
Orsino and doesn't feel

that she can declare her love
because she's supposed to be

disguised as a young
man, as Cesario.

Are you a comedian?

No, my profound heart:

and yet, by the very
fangs of malice I swear,

I am not that I play.

Are you the lady of the house?

If I do not usurp myself, I am.

Olivia is also trapped.

I mean, Shakespeare,
again, does this so beautifully

to make the two women
analogous to one another.

Each has a brother.
Olivia's brother has died.

She is mourning him.

So she's trapped in
this memorial moment...

Good madam, let
me see your face.

Have you any
commission from your lord

to negotiate with my face?

And the surprising arrival
of Viola dressed as Cesario

somehow frees Olivia.

You are now out of your text:

but we shall draw the curtain
and show you the picture.

She draws the
curtain, shows her face,

and this is, in a way,
the reawakening of Olivia.

Now she herself is vulnerable.

Now she herself is
willing to learn to love.

Look you, sir,

such a one I was this present:

is't not well done?

Excellently done,
if God did all.

'Tis in grain, sir;

'twill endure wind and weather.

RICHARDSON, VOICE-OVER:
There's so much about proving love

and the challenges of love

rather than a
straightforward narrative.

It's as though the characters,

they're constantly
challenging each other

about, "How would you love me?"

"I will prove to you
how I love you."

Also, the woman can
only declare her love

if she's pretending
to be someone else.

True.

Viola can only declare her love

by creating somebody else,

and when she goes to woo Olivia,

Viola, the young man, says,

"Build me a willow
cabin at your gate,"

and that's one of the most
beautiful Shakespeare speeches.

RICHARDSON, VOICE-OVER:
The famous willow cabin speech

emerges when Olivia
challenges Cesario to say

just what he would
do if he loved her

as much as Orsino claims to.

If I did love you in
my master's flame...

Why, what would you?

Make me a willow
cabin at your gate,

And call upon my
soul within the house;

Write loyal cantons
of contemned love

And sing them loud
even in the dead of night.

RICHARDSON, VOICE-OVER:
Viola is, of course, talking

as much about her
own love for Orsino

as she is pretending to
talk about his love for Olivia,

and her sincerity will
have comic consequences.

"Olivia!"

O, You should not rest

Between the elements
of air and earth,

But you should pity me!

You might do much.

And with that, Olivia falls
in love with the messenger,

and not the message.

Cesario, by the
roses of the spring,

By maidhood, honor,
truth and every thing,

I love thee so.

RICHARDSON, VOICE-OVER:
And just in case all this

mistaken identity
and misplaced love

isn't complicated
enough, in this play,

Shakespeare also introduces
one of his most famous

and popular subplots.

Shakespeare's
imagination was so fertile

that he could never resist
weaving many different elements

into each play.

So there are some examples
where what ostensibly seems

to be the subplot just
brought on for comic relief

almost takes
over the play itself.

♪ There dwelt a man
in Babylon, lady, lady! ♪

RICHARDSON, VOICE-OVER:
In "Twelfth Night," the subplot

involves a character
called Malvolio.

Malvolio is the pompous
steward of Olivia's household.

Is there no respect of place,
persons, nor time in you?

RICHARDSON, VOICE-OVER:
The rest of the household

have a plan to embarrass him.

For actors and audiences alike,

Malvolio, here played
by Sir Alec Guinness,

is one of the most popular
roles in Shakespeare.

She shall know
of it, by this hand.

Ha ha ha!

Olivia's steward
Malvolio is persuaded

that Olivia has, in fact,
fallen in love with him.

Lie thou there.

Some of the other
members of the household

write a letter that he picks
up and thinks it's a love note

addressed by Olivia to him...

What dish o' poison
has she dressed him!

"I may command where I adore."

Why, she may command me:

I serve her; she is my lady.

And undergoes this profound
and humiliating experience

of coming out dressed
in a special costume

that the letter has
told him to dress in,

and Olivia, of course,
is completely bemused.

How now, Malvolio!

Sweet lady, ho, ho.

The whole story of Malvolio

is supposed to be the
subplot, the background,

the comic relief,
but the evidence

of all the early
performances is that Malvolio

is what people remembered.

RICHARDSON, VOICE-OVER:
The popularity of the Malvolio story

helped to make "Twelfth
Night" one of the very first

Shakespeare plays ever
filmed, silently in 1910,

with the distinguished
actor Charles Kent

in the role of Malvolio.

Malvolio almost becomes
the star of the play.

Indeed, when King Charles I

bought a copy of
Shakespeare's collected plays,

on the contents list, he
crossed out some of the titles.

So "Twelfth Night,"
he crossed it out

and called it "Malvolio."

RICHARDSON, VOICE-OVER:
In fact, the joke goes a bit too far

for my taste, and Malvolio
is driven almost mad...

but by the end of the
play, all is resolved.

Viola's brother
Sebastian appears,

and Olivia, now thinking
that he is Cesario,

promptly marries him.

If you mean well,

Now go with me
and with this holy man

Into the chantry by.

RICHARDSON, VOICE-OVER:
Viola is revealed to be a woman,

and Orsino,
realizing his mistake,

falls in love with her...

and the twins
Viola and Sebastian

are movingly reunited.

The end of "Twelfth
Night" is infallibly moving,

infallibly overwhelming,
but what's overwhelming

is the reconciliation
of the twins.

What's overwhelming is
the image of the two twins

finding each other
and knowing each other

not to be dead.

RICHARDSON, VOICE-OVER: And given
the recent death of Shakespeare's own son,

one of his twins,
one can only wonder

at the emotion the playwright
invested in this resolution.

In the work of the
imagination in the play,

the story, you can
have a magical recovery.

That which is lost can be found.

You can have a
kind of resurrection,

and, of course,
this is what happens

at the end of "Twelfth Night."

The brother and the
sister are restored.

You don't have to be some
kind of Freudian psychoanalyst

to see a real sense
of wish fulfillment

in Shakespeare
as he writes that.

RICHARDSON, VOICE-OVER: But Shakespeare's
comedies haven't survived 400 years

just because of cross-dressing
and mistaken identity.

They've also lasted because
of the strong female roles

and, of course, the women
who eventually played them.

In 1660, 44 years after
Shakespeare's death,

women were finally
allowed to act in public.

I've gone to the National
Portrait Gallery in London

to find out how
the first actresses

left their mark on the stage.

This is a wonderful portrait

of the actress Dorothea Jordan,

who was one of
the most successful

comic actresses of her time,

and she was renowned
for her britches roles,

for her cross-dress roles,

and here, she's playing Rosalind

in "As You Like It,"
and, of course, Rosalind

was one of the biggest
and juiciest... Still is.

Roles... still is...
Cross-dress roles

in Shakespeare's comic dramas,

and she was
famous for this role.

She was loved by audiences.

Of course, the
idea that they were

exposing their
thighs and their ankles

and their calves in this way

generated a huge
kind of moral debate

about the dissolute,
decadent theater, exactly,

but also women's
sexuality was on the line

in a way that men's
sexuality wasn't.

RICHARDSON, VOICE-OVER: One
wonders what Shakespeare would have made

of the first actresses
to play his roles.

I think Shakespeare
regarded women as people,

which doesn't mean
that he was a feminist.

Shakespeare thought women
were endowed with sexuality

and that that
sexuality was active.

The women in the
comedies are highly sexed...

physically generous,

eloquent, active.

I think when it comes
to certain things,

Shakespeare thought
women were superior to men...

In their constancy, for one,

in their common
sense, for another.

Shakespeare's female
characters seem to be older,

more world-wise, and
smarter than the boys.

When I think of strong
women in Shakespeare,

I automatically
think of the comedies

and one play in
particular... "As You Like It."

The play is set in
the forest of Arden

on the fringes of Stratford.

Of all of Shakespeare's
plays, this is probably the one

that is closest to home,
but what makes this comedy

particularly special
for me is that it's here

that Shakespeare gives us one
of his strongest female roles...

The feisty, fabulous,
and beguiling Rosalind.

The little strength that I have,

I would it were with you.

I think "As You Like It" is
the play where Shakespeare

is at utterly full command
of all his comic resources.

There's almost a kind of
musical, operatic quality to it.

Now Hercules be
thy speed, young man!

RICHARDSON, VOICE-OVER:
"As You Like It" is, at its heart,

a simple love story
between Rosalind

and a young man called Orlando.

Rosalind is a special character

because she leads that play.

Orlando beats
the giant wrestler...

O excellent young man!

And in doing so,
he meets Rosalind,

and Rosalind falls
instantly for him.

Wear this for me.

RICHARDSON, VOICE-OVER:
Rosalind was the breakthrough role

for my mother when the
Royal Shakespeare Company

production of the play was
shown on television in 1963.

It made her a star.

One out of suits with fortune,

That could give more,

but that her hand lacks means.

There's a famous
story, isn't there,

about you playing
Rosalind What's that?

During the previews. Oh, yes.

Your director came
to you and said,

"Vanessa, we've got a problem."

Yes.

He said, "Vanessa, if you
don't give yourself to this play,

"you're going to ruin
the entire production

and everything in it,"

and...

But did you know
what he meant by that?

Didn't you already feel
that you were giving yourself

to the play in every
available way?

I knew that he had to be right.

Ha ha ha!

I knew that he had to be right,

and I suddenly
thought, "All right.

"I'll just go on as you go on

when you're going
to do a high dive

into a swimming pool."

You abandon all
thoughts of controlling,

of how you're going to be.

You just give
yourself to the water.

In that sense, I understood it,

and I guess it happened.

O, how full of briers is
this working-day world!

Come, come, wrestle
with thy affections.

O, they take the part of a
better wrestler than myself!

RICHARDSON, VOICE-OVER: Rosalind
is the daughter of a banished duke.

Her uncle has deposed
her father and taken his title...

Mistress, dispatch you
with your safest haste.

RICHARDSON, VOICE-OVER:
and now he intends to banish her.

Me, uncle? You, cousin.

Within these 10 days
if that thou be'st found

So near our public
court as 20 miles,

Thou diest for it.

I...

I do beseech your grace,

Let me the knowledge
of my fault bear with me.

Thou art thy father's
daughter; there's enough.

So was I when your
highness took his dukedom;

So was I when your
highness banish'd him.

She completely
lays it on the table.

You, niece, provide yourself.

It's really something.

I haven't ever seen this before.

I've seen one clip, and they
always show the same one,

but I haven't seen any of this.

Given that
Shakespeare was writing

for an all-male
acting company...

The female parts were
played by the apprentices,

the junior actors...

It's quite astonishing
and unprecedented

that the role of
Rosalind is so huge.

It's by far the biggest
role in the play.

It's one of the
very biggest roles

in the whole of the
Shakespearean cannon,

and she completely
dominates the action of the play.

RICHARDSON, VOICE-OVER:
Banished from the palace, Rosalind,

here played by Helen Mirren,
must come up with a plan

enabling both her and her cousin

to escape to the
forest in safety.

I wanted to play Rosalind

because it's a very famous
Shakespearean character,

one of the really great,
great female roles.

Were it not better,

Because that I am
more than common tall,

That I should suit me
all points like a man?

Somehow, Shakespeare found a way

around this issue with women

of putting women
into men's clothing

and, therefore,
giving them this ability

to speak in a free way.

Pray you, bear with me.

He found a way to
give women a voice.

It's a great gift to
womankind in many ways.

They're all so smart,
Shakespeare's women.

Well, this is the
forest of Arden. Aye.

RICHARDSON, VOICE-OVER: So once
again, our heroine is dressed as a boy,

and, as usual,
Shakespeare makes the most

of the sexual innuendos.

Shakespeare likes
dropping little hints.

When Rosalind
cross-dresses as a boy,

she chooses the name Ganymede.

Now, Ganymede was the
name of the cup bearer of Jupiter,

but in various
classical sources,

there was a strong
suggestion that Ganymede

didn't only bear Jupiter's cup,

that he also provided him
with some sexual services,

and so the term
"Ganymede" became slang

for the boy lover of a man.

RICHARDSON, VOICE-OVER:
Rosalind's adventures

in unconventional
love now continue.

She meets a shepherd, Silvius,

and the woman he loves... Phebe.

Of course, Phebe
will fall in love

with the young man Ganymede.

'Od's my little life,

I think she means
to tangle my eyes too!

No, faith, proud mistress,

hope not after it.

RICHARDSON, VOICE-OVER:
These are the typical comic devices

of Shakespearean theater,

filmed here on
location in a real forest.

400 years after the
original production,

director Thea Sharrock presented
the play on the kind of stage

that was, perhaps,
most suitable...

Shakespeare's Globe,

but, as always, it was
the character of Rosalind

that was center stage.

Well, this is the
forest of Arden.

Ay.

Therefore courage, good Aliena!

I pray you, bear with
me; I cannot go no further.

Rosalind is everything.
She is funny.

She's witty. She's
clever. She's quick.

You know, she's got
unbelievable strength.

She's loyal. She's independent.

You know, she's all
of these complex things

that all of us are, really,

but she could run the
country at the same time.

What did he when
thou sawest him?

What said he? How looked he?

Wherein went he?
What makes him here?

Did he ask for me?
Where remains he?

How parted he with thee and
when shalt thou see him again?

Answer me in one word.

She's a lot bigger
than most of us are,

and it is incredible how
Shakespeare has managed to put

all of those characteristics
into one person,

and, of course, the
fact that it's a lady

makes it even more interesting.

RICHARDSON, VOICE-OVER:
By this stage in the play,

Orlando has gone to
the forest to find Rosalind,

not knowing, of course, that
she's now disguised as a man.

He's been pinning poems
about her on all the trees,

but he meets the
play's most cynical

and unromantic
character... Jaques.

Mar no more trees

with writing love-songs
in their barks.

I pray you, mar no
more of my verses

with reading them ill-favoredly.

Rosalind is your love's name?

Yes, just.

I do not like her name.

In the forest, Rosalind
starts discovering

these poems on trees.

Who on earth has
written these poems

"deifying the name of
Rosalind," as she says?

Orlando.

♪ Orlando ♪

Aah! Aah!

And instead of just
going, "I'm here.

It's all gonna be all right,"

Rosalind thinks,
"Hey, wait a minute.

"I'll test him.

I'll keep my disguise
as Ganymede..."

Do you hear, forester?

"and I will give him
lessons in love."

There is a man
haunts the forest,

that abuses our young plants

by carving "Rosalind"
in their barks.

RICHARDSON, VOICE-OVER: Rosalind's
determination to test Orlando's love

leads to one of Shakespeare's
most famous comic scenes,

in which, still
dressed as a boy,

she offers to
pretend to be a girl

who will behave so badly,

she will cure
Orlando of his love.

Wherein Rosalind is so admired?

I swear to thee, youth, by
the white hand of Rosalind,

I am that he, that
unfortunate he.

I swear to thee, youth,

by the white hand of Rosalind,

I am that he, that
unfortunate he.

I profess curing it by counsel.

Well, of course,
Rosalind's contention

is that she can...
Pretending that

she's Ganymede,
not Rosalind... Yes.

That she can cure
Orlando of his love

because, she declares,
"Love is merely a madness."

Have you ever cured any so?

"Yes, one, and in this manner.

He was to imagine me
his love, his mistress..."

and I set him every
day to woo me:

at which time would I,
being but a moonish youth,

grieve, be effeminate,
changeable,

longing and liking,
proud, fantastical,

apish, shallow, inconstant...

"inconstant, full of tears,

"full of smiles,

"for every passion something

and for no passion
truly any thing..."

as boys and women
are for the most part

cattle of this color;

would now like
him, now loathe him;

now entertain him,
then forswear him;

now weep for him, then...

"spit at him;

"that I drave my suitor
from his mad humor

of love to a living
humor of madness..."

which was, to forswear
the full stream of the world,

and to live in a nook
merely monastic.

And thus I cured him...

"and this way
will I take upon me

"to wash your liver as clean

"as a sound sheep's heart,

that there shall not be
one spot of love in't."

I would not be cured, youth.

I would cure you.

That is a wonderful scene.

It's one of the most
wonderful, teasing,

merry, heartfelt scenes

that were ever
written for a woman.

RICHARDSON, VOICE-OVER:
It's believed that Shakespeare

wrote "As You Like It"
during the cold winter of 1599.

The company were
using the winter break

to build their open-air
theater the Globe on Bankside,

near where the modern
replica now stands.

It's a play that seems
to convey a certain magic

to actors and audiences alike.

Whew.

Here I am, my first time ever

on this incredible
stage here at the Globe.

I always feel that there's
something very magical

about stages.

They're almost like
churches or something.

They always send
shivers up my spine,

and we're all shivering
because it's snowing.

It's really stunning,
the detail here.

I always feel that there's
an element in theaters

of some of the energy
of the productions

and the audience
that have been here.

You feel the history,
and I think that synthesis

of performers and audience
is what theater is all about

and, obviously, especially
during Shakespeare's time,

as 400 years ago...

Sorry. This is just so
beautiful, this falling snow.

I think that synergy would
have been completely maximized

because in those days, audiences
were so much more vocal.

You know, people could've
been heckling or crying

or shouting with joy,

and I think that
would have elevated...

You know, like a sports
arena or gladiators,

it raised the stakes.

RICHARDSON, VOICE-OVER:
As part owner of the theater,

Shakespeare was a
show business impresario,

and "As You Like It" was a hit.

Now, as then, the Globe Theatre
seems to magnify the experience.

Why, how now, Orlando!

RICHARDSON,
VOICE-OVER: At it's climax,

Rosalind proposes a
fake marriage ceremony

which, much to the
audience's delight,

is sealed with a
kiss for Orlando

from a character whom the
audience knows is Rosalind

but he still thinks is a boy.

I take thee, Rosalind, for wife.

I mean, the love
story in "As You Like It"

is the central
narrative, isn't it,

and watching two people
magnetically fall in love

with each other
is a complete joy,

and watching that every
night with 1,000 people

was a complete delight
from beginning to end.

We know that
eventually it will work out,

but it's hugely complicated

because Rosalind
is dressed as a man.

Orlando doesn't even
realize that it's Rosalind.

Rosalind is busy wooing him

in the guise of Ganymede
pretending to be Rosalind.

Meanwhile, Phebe,
the shepherdess,

has fallen in love with Rosalind
thinking that she's a man,

and Silvius is in
love with Phebe.

So we've got this
ridiculous kind of love quartet

that clearly has to be resolved.

We know it will be because
it's a Shakespeare comedy...

Down on your knees,

And thank heaven, fasting,
for a good man's love:

For I must tell you
friendly in your ear,

Sell when you can: you
are not for all markets:

Hoo hoo hoo! Ha ha ha!

Cry the man mercy; love him.

But it takes some
engineering on Rosalind's part,

and she says, "Right.

"You'll all meet
me here tomorrow,

and then it'll all
be sorted out."

To-morrow meet me all together.

I will marry you, if
ever I marry woman,

and I shall be
married to-morrow:

I will satisfy you, if
ever I satisfied man,

and you shall be
married to-morrow:

I will content you,

if what pleases
you contents you,

and you shall be
married to-morrow.

There are certain
moments of convenience,

but it seems to me,
the important thing

is that somehow when people
come to the forest of Arden,

there is some element
of transformation.

RICHARDSON, VOICE-OVER:
"As You Like It" will close

with 4 weddings and no
funerals, but that won't please

the play's great voice
of cynicism... Jaques.

It may be one of
the smaller roles,

but it always attracts
the greatest of actors,

here played by Kevin Kline.

There is, sure,
another flood toward,

and these couples
are coming to the ark.

Jaques at the end
of "As You Like It"

is still a satirist,

and he doesn't approve
of all these marriages,

and he's got wonderful,
acerbic comment about,

"There must be
another flood coming

because all these couples
are coming towards the ark."

He's invited to participate
in the dancing at the end...

To your pleasures:

I am for other than
for dancing measures.

And he says, "I'm for other
than for dancing measures,"

you know, "Count
me out of this one."

Jaques, stay.

RICHARDSON, VOICE-OVER:
He's at least consistent.

Jaques is the voice in the
play that has constantly sought

to belittle to joys of love

with a healthy dose
of unromantic realism.

One man in his time
plays many parts,

His acts being 7 ages.

Jaques most famous
speech, the 7 ages of man,

when you go
through those 7 ages,

you get to the end,

and there's a real sense
of bitterness and emptiness.

And his big manly voice,

Turning again toward
childish treble, pipes

And whistles in his sound.

Last scene of all,

That ends this
strange eventful history,

Is second childishness

and mere oblivion.

The last stage, "mere oblivion,

Sans teeth, sans
eyes, sans everything,"

the sense that for all
the joy of the comedy,

in the end, what
you're left with is death.

What you're left
with is a skull.

We're not so far away
from "Hamlet," after all.

Sans everything.

I think Shakespeare
believed in love

and in making a marriage
that's to do with love

when actually the
idea of marrying for love

was quite peculiar.

Shakespeare almost always
talks about marriage as love,

love matches, but he's very,
very conscious of the fact

that love is a tricky thing.

I personally feel
that Shakespeare,

in some ways for
us, he is a bible.

For all actors, he is,
isn't he, male and female.

For us women,
they're incredible roles.

Yes, and if you
hope to one day be

on a Beethoven level of playing,

you better learn
to play Beethoven,

and Shakespeare
is like Beethoven.

And actually, if
you think about it,

within every
Shakespearean heroine role

are the seeds for
any performance

of an actress that we've
ever seen in any role.

And different versions
of the same woman.

Yes, Yeah.

And Shakespeare showed
every single side of women.

That's why the
roles are so rich. Yes.

He championed us.

He clearly loved women.

Do you not know I am a woman?

When I think, I must speak.

Sweet, say on.

RICHARDSON, VOICE-OVER:
Shakespeare's great comic heroines

are comic, and
they are romantic,

but they're so
much more than that.

For all their
fairy-tale qualities,

the comedies also retain an
edge of doubt and cynicism.

One of the important
things about Shakespeare is,

he's not trying to say anything.

He's not trying to
tell you how to think.

What he is saying
to you is, "Think."

RICHARDSON, VOICE-OVER:
Even the greatest theater

is a piece of make-believe.

A play is called a
play for a reason.

This is the source
of their power.

We enter the theater like Viola

washed up on
the shore of Illyria

or Rosalind arriving in
the forest ready to pretend,

yet we unexpectedly
encounter something real.

At the heart of these plays

is a tale that we
can all relate to.

One person trying
to love another

has got to be the
oldest story of all,

but it's never been
more beautifully told

than by Shakespeare.