The Spark Series: Shakespeare’s As You Like It

Ahead of his one-day literary workshop at Birkenhead Central Library, Tom tells us why he’s chosen to explore Shakespeare’s As You Like It.

Shakespeare’s plays contain, as well as engrossing drama, some of the richest thinking on being human available to us. However, I sometimes find it tricky to tune into the language of the plays when reading alone, so The Spark Series provides an ideal occasion to get to grips with one of them with some help from other readers!

Reading slowly with others, listening to the words read aloud, and stopping to talk will give us a chance to connect with the play afresh – whether you already know it or are coming to it for the first time.

The plot of As You Like It is unlikely, to say the least! After various hardships, diverse people find themselves exiled into the Forest of Arden, and have to find another way to live outside of the usual bounds of human society. I was particularly struck by the banished Duke Senior’s optimistic speech to his men:

‘ Are not these woods

More free from peril than the envious court?

Here feel we but the penalty of Adam,

The seasons’ difference, as the icy fang

And churlish chiding of the winter’s wind,

Which, when it bites and blows upon my body,

Even till I shrink with cold, I smile and say

‘This is no flattery: these are counsellors

That feelingly persuade me what I am.’

Sweet are the uses of adversity,

Which, like the toad, ugly and venomous,

Wears yet a precious jewel in his head…’

I have chosen As You Like It because, in this unreal world, we will be able to explore together some of the absorbing questions of reality: Can we find ease in adversity? Is there such a thing as freedom from society, or does human nature always get in the way? What is love and desire, really? We will read a few choice scenes, giving us plenty of time to enjoy and get stuck into the world of the play.


The Spark Series

Shakespeare: As You Like It with Tom Young

Thursday 18 May, 10am-4pm

Birkenhead Central Library, Borough Rd, Birkenhead CH41 2XB

If you’d like to sign up for Shakespeare: As You Like It, or any of our upcoming one-day workshops, visit our website for full details.

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