Open-air Summer Show

A scene from As You Like It


Distinctive amateur drama
in Northampton since 1932

Registered Charity No. 294848


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As You Like It
by William Shakespeare

Cast & Crew

Orlando Daniel Beckitt
Adam Barry Hillman
Matthew Fell
Stewart Revell
Mark Harris
Sarah K Chrispin
Helen Jenkinson
Paul Hill
Le Beau Tony Janney
Duke Frederick
Brian Harrap
First Lord
Mark Mortimer
Second Lord
Deryck Rogers
Emma Austin, David Chappell, Jo Nutt, Suzanne Richards, Emily Salter, Michael Street, Martin Winsley
Duke Senior
Rob Kendall
Amiens David Chappell
First Forest Lord Michael Street
Forest Lords Stewart Revell, Martin Winsley
Duke’s Page
Gina Lander
Owen Warr
Chris Eves
Martin Williams
Emma Austin
Sir Oliver Martext
Brian Harrap
Sarah Baxter
Tony Janney
Jaques de Boys
Martin Winsley
Mark Mortimer, Deryck Rogers
Jo Nutt, Suzanne Richards, Emily Salter, Jan Stoppani
Fiddler Chris Gamble

Director Ursula Wright
Musical Director Gina Lander
Choreographer Jo Nutt
Fight Arranger Mark Harris
Costume Design
Alison Dunmore
Costumes made by
Alison Dunmore, Dorothy Granger, Pam Mann, Pamela Manning, Jean McNamara, Josephine Palmer, Tamsyn Payne
Additional Costumes
The Works
The Works, Jo Nutt, Thom Harvey
Stage Manager
Claire Brittain
Assistant Stage Managers Suzanne Richards, Melanie Revell
Properties Greta Hendy
Mary Greaves
Katie Baxter, Eileen Jenkinson
Front of House
Jan Stoppani
Box Office Mary Greaves
Tony Janney
Poster Design
Chris Eves
John Hendy

A scene from As You Like It

Production No. 330

More images from As You Like It


Ursula Wright, director

As You Like It was written in 1599-1600, when Shakespeare was 35, and published in the First Folio of 1623.

It was based on a pastoral romance called Rosalynde by Thomas Lodge, published in 1590, which was itself derived from a Fourteenth Century narrative poem The Tale of Gamelyn, found in Chaucer's The Canterbury Tales.

Shakespeare was in fact dramatising a well-known piece of romantic fiction, only adding the characters of Touchstone, William and Jacques to the original source material.

Pastoral prose and poetry was an important genre in Elizabethan literature. "Shepherds and shepherdesses fall in and out of love amid an Arcadian landscape inherited from the Greek and Latin poets.

Unlike their real-life namesakes, they are creatures of leisure, articulate and whimsical.

They sit on grassy knolls, or by babbling brooks, on sunlit May momings, soliloquising or discoursing of passion while their grateful sheep gambol contentedly at their feet.

They are an urban dream of the simple life and of fresh uncomplicated love," (Andrew Hilton)

This was one of the reasons why I chose to set our production in the 1820s.

Rousseau‘s philosophy of "back to nature" was colouring the vision of the English Romantic poets, and the influence of the American and French revolutions was being felt everywhere, in dreams of a new golden age of liberty and fraternity.

As the industrial revolution began to take hold, poets, novelists and anists evoked a life of rustic simplicity and dignity, contrasting with the corrupt and artificial court of the Prince Regent, caricatured by artists like Gilray and Cruikshank.

John Clare, Northampton's own pastoral poet (and from 1841 to 1864 a patient here at St. Andrew's Hospital, or Northampton General Lunatic Asylum as it was then called) published his Shepherd's Calendar in 1827.

I like to think that he might have sat writing poetry under the same tree as the one beneath which we play out Shakespeare's gentle parody of the pastoral dream.

He had a copy of As You Like It in his personal collection of books, still preserved in Northampton Central Reference Library.

As You Like It offers an exploration of contrasting themes: the court and the country, Nature or Fortune, realism and romanticism, inherent nobility or acquired virtue, truth and lies, disguise and revelation, wisdom and folly, youth and age, laughter and melancholy.

No correct choices are presented; it is up to us to decide.

In Arden, ideas and relationships are honestly examined and the self-knowledge gained in the forest must eventually be transferred back to the court.

Shakespeare's time was a transitional period of uncertain values; as were the 1820. So too, perhaps, is our own time.

Finally, and on a more practical note, the attractive costumes of the late Georgian period allow our male actors to avoid woolly tights and our female actors to show their ankles!

24 July - 2 August 2003 at 7.30pm (except Sun)
In the open-air in the grounds of St Andrew's Hospital, Billing Road, Northampton

Page last updated: 28/02/2013 Masque Theatre © 2013


Northampton Chronicle & Echo, July 2003

Shakespeare's most romantic and light-hearted comedy As You Like It is this year’s open-air production by the Northampton-based Masque Theatre, with two former students of Northampton college taking the lead roles.

It tells the story of young lovers Orlando and Rosalind who fall madly in love the minute they lay eyes on each other.

But Rosalind is the companion of Duke Frederick’s daughter Celia, who has deposed his older brother Duke Senior as the ruler of a French province.

Duke Senior has fled to the Forest of Arden with his followers.

When Duke Frederick finds out about Rosalind’s feelings for Orlando, whose father is one of his enemies, she also has to flee to the forest disguised as the shepherd Ganymede, with her friend Celia and the court jester Touchstone.

Orlando has to flee to the forest too but he is treated like a servant by his evil brother Oliver.

Then Phebe, a shepherdess, falls head over heels in love with Ganymede.

But of course by the end of the play everyone is reconciled and All’s Well That Ends Well.

In this production, Rosalind is played by 24-year-old Sarah Chrispin, a drama graduate from University College Northampton who went to the Edinburgh Festival last year with her own theatre company.

David Beckitt, a 21-year-old former student at Northampton College, takes the role of Orlando. 

Both perform with Masque Theatre for the first time.

Sarah Chrispin is pictured above in dress rehearsal with Helen Jenkinson, Emma Austin and Paul Hill.

Performances take place in the grounds of St Andrew’s Hospital in Billing Road, Northampton (entrance opposite Barry Road) from July 24 to August 2 (excluding Sunday July 27) at 7.30pm.

Tickets are available from the box office on site from 7pm on the day of the performance.