Dramatising Shakespeare’s play #As You Like It…

As You Like It – Dramatising the play


Learning Objectives: you will learn about the way in which Shakespeare STRUCTURES his work; the way he creates interesting characters; and how to present his work dramatically; you will learn about working in a group, and using discussion and reflection to improve your work…


Your task: In mixed groups of four or five, you are going to produce a 5 minute version of the play, using a narrator, sound effects, and good dramatic action.

  1. Read as a group through the character list, and then the summary.
  2. PUT AWAY THE SUMMARY. No reading allowed after you’re familiar with the play. Decide upon the key events to dramatise. Discuss why you will dramatise them. Don’t worry about leaving details out.
  3. Use a narrator to say who each character is
  4. Write your own INDIVIDUAL script for homework in your books, include detailed stage directions.


A narrator and actor: They will tell the story in the form of a rap. Make it interesting.

A theatre director (also actor): Motivate the whole group so that it is doing good work.

A choreographer (also actor): Think about movement on stage, using stage fighting, slow motion fighting,

A ‘character’ coach (also actor): Getting people to behave in role.

As You Like It :: Characters

As You Like It Characters

Duke Senior was exiled to the Forest of Arden when his younger brother usurped his throne.

Duke Frederick Duke Frederick is a usurper (means “thief”), who took the throne from his brother and banished him from the land.

Amiens Amiens is a lord attending on the exiled Duke.

Jaques Jaques is a lord in Duke Senior’s party, a man who affects melancholy and whose name sounds the same as another word for ‘chamberpot.’

Le Beau Le Beau is a courtier of Duke Frederick’s.

Charles Charles is the Duke’s wrestler. An honorable fellow, he comes to dissuade Oliver from letting Orlando participate in the wrestling the next day.

Oliver Oliver is the eldest son of Sir Rowland de Boys, and his heir. 

Orlando Orlando is the youngest son of the deceased Sir Rowland de Boys.

Adam Adam is an old servant of Sir Rowland’s, who greatly affections Orlando. 

Dennis Denis is Oliver’s servant. He brings in Charles the wrestler.

Touchstone Touchstone is Duke Frederick’s jester, and so fond of Celia that he is willing to abandon the court to follow her to the forest, for all that he does not enjoy rural life.

Sir Oliver Martext Sir Oliver Martext is a country vicar who is not considered likely to do his job well, which is the very reason Touchstone hopes to use him rather than another for his marriage to Aubrey.

Corin Corin is an old shepherd in the Forest of Arden. He does not own the sheep he tends, as he is another man’s worker.

Silvius Silvius is a young shepherd, desperately in love with Phoebe and unwilling to believe that the aged can possibly understand his torment. 

William William is a countryman in love with Audrey.

Hymen Hymen is the God of Marriage.

Rosalind Rosalind is the Old Duke’s daughter. When Duke Frederick took power, he did not exile her, and she and her cousin Celia soon became inseparable friends.

Celia Celia is Duke Frederick’s daughter. When the latter took power, she became acquainted with her cousin Rosalind, and they were soon inseparable.

Phebe Phebe is a dark-featured, black-haired, large-eyed shepherdess beloved by Silvius.

Audrey Audrey is a goatherd Touchstone lusts after, and perhaps even loves.

Jaques De Boys Jaques de Boys is the second son of Sir Rowland.

As You Like It Summary from Shmoop

How It All Goes Down

Sir Rowland de Boys has recently died, leaving behind sons Oliver and Orlando. Since Oliver’s the eldest son, he’s inherited just about everything. This includes the responsibility of making sure his little bro finishes school and continues to live the kind of lifestyle he’s become accustomed to as the son of a nobleman. (By the way, this lifestyle looks like a sixteenth-century version of MTV’s Teen Cribs.)

Oliver, however, treats his little bro like a servant – he refuses to pay for Orlando’s education and never gives the kid any spending money. Also, he tells the local court wrestler it would be a good idea to snap Orlando’s neck, but Orlando doesn’t know about this. Naturally, Orlando is ticked off that Oliver treats him so badly and he’s ready to “mutiny” against his older bro. Instead, he channels all of his pent up anger into a wrestling match, where he beats the court wrestler to a bloody pulp.

Orlando’s wrestling skillz catch the eye of a local girl named Rosalind, who has her own family drama to worry about. (Ros is the daughter of Duke Senior, who used to rule over the French court but was overthrown by his snaky, backstabbing brother, Duke Frederick. Because Rosalind’s dad is living in exile in the Forest of Arden, Rosalind has been crashing at the palace with her BFF/cousin, Celia. Did we mention that Celia is the daughter of snaky, backstabbing Duke Frederick? And you thought your family had issues…)

Rosalind thinks Orlando is the dreamiest boy she’s ever laid eyes on and Orlando feels the same way about her. The two fall in love faster than you can make Ramen noodles. Rosalind gives Orlando her necklace, which means the two are officially an item.

Things go downhill from there. Orlando finds out that his big brother Oliver is planning to burn his house down (with Orlando in it), so he runs away to the Forest of Arden. Since he’s broke he takes his old family servant Adam along for the adventure. This is a good thing because Adam ponies up his entire life savings to help cover the costs of the road trip.

Meanwhile, Duke Frederick decides that he doesn’t like the fact that Rosalind is more popular than his daughter, Celia. So, Duke Frederick 86’es his niece from his court.

Rosalind decides to run away to the Forest of Arden, which, apparently, is the destination of choice for exiles. To avoid being the target of rapists and thieves, Rosalind decides that she’ll dress as a boy and call herself “Ganymede.” KEY QUOTE:

Were it not better,
Because that I am more than common tall,
That I did suit me all points like a man?
A gallant curtle-axe upon my thigh,
A boar spear in my hand; and- in my heart
Lie there what hidden woman’s fear there will-
We’ll have a swashing and a martial outside,
As many other mannish cowards have
That do outface it with their semblances. (1.3.18)

(The fact that Rosalind can pose as a “man” by dressing like one and carrying weapons suggests that masculinity is merely a role to be played, rather than something that’s inherent to one sex or the other.  Yet, when Rosalind says she’ll hide her “woman’s fear,” she seems like she subscribes to the idea that women are naturally fearful.  At the same time, Rosalind also admits that there are many “mannish cowards” who merely pretend to be brave.  So, fear is not limited to women alone, and thus bravery might not be limited to men alone.)

What shall I call thee when thou art a man?
I’ll have no worse a name than Jove’s own page;
And therefore look you call me Ganymede.
But what will you be call’d? (1.3.19)

(NOTE: The name “Ganymede” would have been particularly significant to an Elizabethan audience because, in the 16th century, “Ganymede” was a slang term for a boy in a sexual relationship with another (older) man.  This alerts us to the possibility that Orlando may be attracted to “Ganymede” as well as Rosalind. )

Cousin Celia is so devoted that she decides to run away too and she disguises herself as “Ganymede’s” sister, “Aliena.” (As in Celia is now alienated from her father.) Just for kicks, the girls decide to invite the court fool, Touchstone, along with them.

Cut to the Forest of Arden, where we meet Rosalind’s dad, Duke Senior. He’s a pretty happy-go-lucky guy for being a banished duke, and he tells us that Arden is a lot like the garden of Eden (except for the fact that Arden is lot colder and windier).

Meanwhile, Orlando and his servant Adam are starving because they forgot to watch Man vs. Wild and have no idea how to find food in the forest. Adam passes out and Orlando promises to find him some dinner. Luckily, Orlando stumbles upon Duke Senior and his band of “merry men” sitting down to a mouth-watering banquet. Orlando crashes the party and threatens to kill everyone if they don’t give him something to eat, like, right now. The Duke is all “chill out, and bring Adam, too.” Orlando and Adam make a ton of new friends at the banquet, including “melancholy” Jaques.

On the cross-dressing front, things are good for Rosalind/Ganymede as she settles into the Forest of Arden. She meets a shepherd, Corin, who gives Rosalind a hot real estate tip about a cottage that comes with its own flock of sheep and plenty of land for grazing. Rosalind/Ganymede and Celia/Aliena don’t waste any time going country – they buy the cottage and make friends with the locals. Among their new rustic pals are a lovesick shepherd named Silvius and the woman he loves, Phoebe. (By the way, Phoebe hates Silvius.)

Yet, love is definitely in the air. Rosalind discovers poems (stuck to trees) that a mysterious lover has penned – about her! The poems are pretty awful and they’re full of silly clichés about love, but Rosalind doesn’t care when she finds out the poems have been written by none other than dreamy Orlando.

Before we know it, Rosalind bumps into Orlando in the forest. Instead of coming clean about her true identity, she stays in her “Ganymede” disguise and becomes pals with Orlando. (That way, she can pump Orlando for information about how he really feels about her.)

Alas the day! what shall I do with my doublet and
hose? 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. (3.2.19)

(NOTE: OMG! Rosalind can’t wait to hear what Orlando’s been up to when she finds out that he’s not only in the forest, but that he’s also been tagging up all the trees with poetry about her.  Like we’ve said, even Rosalind, who’s usually a calm and collected girl, is laid flat by love. )

Orlando confesses to “Ganymede” that he’s head over heels for Rosalind. “Ganymede” then generously offers to pretend to be Rosalind, so that Orlando can practice all of his best moves in the romance department. Orlando, who has no idea “Ganymede” is actually the girl he loves, takes the bait and even participates in a pretend wedding. Aww.

As it turns out, though, Orlando is very, very soppy, thinking love is all about spouting silly love poems and saying ‘I love you’, so Rosalind/Ganymede has got her work cut out for her. She rolls up her sleeves and teaches Orlando how to be a good boyfriend/future husband without ever revealing her true identity.

Meanwhile, the local shepherdess, Phoebe, has fallen in love with “Ganymede” and wants to marry “him.” Also, Touchstone has managed to find a not-so-bright country girl, Audrey, who is willing to get hitched.

The action comes to a head when Rosalind/Ganymede bumps into Orlando’s mean brother, Oliver, in the forest. We learn that Oliver came to the forest to kill his little bro, but, when Orlando saved his life from a ferocious lion, Oliver repented and decided not to kill his kid brother. This is good news, because Oliver and Celia fall in love, about two minutes after meeting. (What? Things happen fast in Arden.)

Seeing Oliver and Celia so happy makes Orlando sad. Even though it’s been fun pretend-romancing “Ganymede,” Orlando says he can’t live another day without the real Rosalind. “Ganymede” takes pity and promises Orlando that he’ll get to marry his girl the very next day. Then “Ganymede” promises that all the lovesick characters will be getting hitched tomorrow.

The next day, everyone gathers around in the forest. “Ganymede” enters and makes Silvius, Phoebe, and Orlando promise to do whatever he says: Orlando must swear to marry Rosalind if Ganymede can produce her; Phoebe must promise to marry Silvius if she decides she doesn’t want to marry Ganymede; Silvius must swear that he will marry Phoebe if Phoebe will have him. When Rosalind whips off her “Ganymede” costume and reveals her true identity (surprise!), her plan falls neatly into place.

Before all of the couples get a chance to smash wedding cakes into each others’ faces, Orlando’s brother, Jaques de Boys (not to be confused with melancholy Jaques) shows up with news that Duke Frederick has decided to give back Duke Senior’s dukedom. Apparently, Frederick entered the forest ready to kill his brother, but met a “religious man” along the way and experienced a sudden conversion. (Like we said, things happen fast in Arden.)

Duke Senior can’t wait to return to court and promises to restore all the exiles to their proper social stations – including his new son-in-law, Orlando, who will inherit his dukedom. For now, though, he says that everyone should party like it’s 1599.

And they all live happily ever after. (Except for melancholy Jaques, who decides to hang out by himself in a cave.


And one man in his time plays many parts,
His acts being seven ages. At first the infant,
Mewling and puking in the nurse’s arms.
And then the whining school-boy, with his satchel
And shining morning face, creeping like snail
Unwillingly to school. And then the lover,
Sighing like furnace, with a woeful ballad
Made to his mistress’ eyebrow. Then a soldier,
Full of strange oaths and bearded like the pard,
Jealous in honour, sudden and quick in quarrel,
Seeking the bubble reputation
Even in the cannon’s mouth. And then the justice,
In fair round belly with good capon lined,
With eyes severe and beard of formal cut,
Full of wise saws and modern instances;
And so he plays his part. The sixth age shifts
Into the lean and slipper’d pantaloon,
With spectacles on nose and pouch on side,
His youthful hose, well saved, a world too wide
For his shrunk shank; 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,
Sans teeth, sans eyes, sans taste, sans everything. (2.7.9)

Jaques’ famous speech suggests that our lives are nothing more than a series of transformations: 1) puking infant; 2) whining school boy; 3) young, sighing lover; 4) the soldier; 5) the “justice” or upstanding leader; 6) silly old man who thinks he’s still young (“pantaloon”); 7) super-old man, toothless, blind, and as helpless as a baby.  Is this an accurate or even useful way to sum up human life?

About @wonderfrancis

Francis Gilbert is a Lecturer in Education at Goldsmiths, University of London, teaching on the PGCE Secondary English programme. He also teaches the Creative Writing module on the MA in Children’s Literature, which is run by Maggie Pitfield and Professor Michael Rosen. Previously, he worked for a quarter of a century in various English state schools teaching English and Media Studies to 11-18 year olds. He has, at times, moonlighted as a journalist, novelist and social commentator. He is the author of ‘Teacher On The Run’, ‘Yob Nation’, ‘Parent Power’, ‘Working The System -- How To Get The Very Best State Education for Your Child’, and a novel about school, ‘The Last Day Of Term’. His first book, ‘I'm A Teacher, Get Me Out Of Here’ was a big hit, becoming a bestseller and being serialised on Radio 4. In his role as an English teacher, he has taught many classic texts over the years and has developed a great many resources to assist readers with understanding, appreciating and responding to them both analytically and creatively. This led him to set up his own small publishing company FGI Publishing (fgipublishing.com) which has published his study guides as well as a number of books by other authors, including Roger Titcombe’s ‘Learning Matters’ and anthology of creative writing 'The Gold Room'. He is the co-founder, with Melissa Benn and Fiona Millar, of The Local Schools Network, www.localschoolsnetwork.org.uk, a blog that celebrates non-selective state schools, and has his own website, www.francisgilbert.co.uk. He has appeared numerous times on radio and TV, including Newsnight, the Today Programme, Woman’s Hour and the Russell Brand Show. In June 2015, he was awarded a PhD in Creative Writing and Education by Goldsmiths.
This entry was posted in Act 1, Act 2, Act 3, Act 4, Act 5, Scene 1, Scene 1, Scene 1, Scene 1, Scene 1, Scene 2, Scene 2, Scene 2, Scene 2, Scene 2, Scene 3, Scene 3, Scene 3, Scene 3, Scene 3, Scene 4, Scene 4, Scene 5, Scene 5, Scene 5, Scene 6, Scene 6, Scene 7 and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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