Newfoundland Jam: Shakespeare's "As You Like It" on the 'Rock'

Shakespeare's English isn't quite like what we speak today, but we get it. So what happens when you set As You Like It in Newfoundland -- as they did at Stratford last year -- with the appropriate accents and a kitchen party? What are the challenges, and what can the play teach us that we perhaps didn't know before?
From the Stratford Festival's production of 'As You Like It', 2016. (David Hou/Stratford Festival)
Listen to the full episode53:58

The way Shakespeare's plays sounded in his own time, on his own stage, wasn't quite the way it sounds today — the accent, the way words were pronounced, was different then. Today we're used to a kind of standard "British" pronunciation, and veerings into Canadian and American accents work too: Shakespeare, and what he's trying to share with us about human nature, generally gets through.

But what happens when you set As You Like It in Newfoundland in the 1980's — as they did at the Stratford Festival last year — with the appropriate accents and a kitchen party? What happens when you play Shakespeare in the vernacular — both his own, and ours? What do we find out that we never knew before? Well, it turns out, quite a lot. For one thing — perhaps Shakespeare's great genius is that he has so much to share with us that it doesn't really matter what you do. However you turn the play inside out, there's always something new to learn.

"As You Like It” director Jillian Keiley talking about the crisis around losing Newfoundland’s distinctive culture. 1:08


Guests in this episode:

  • Jillian Keiley -- director of the Stratford Festival production of As You Like It.
  • Didi Gillard-Rowlings --  actor in As You Like It.
  • Ben Crystal: artistic director, Passion in Practice theatre company, Original Pronunciation specialist.

**This episode was produced by Philip Coulter. It was recorded the Stratford Festival. Thanks to David Campbell. Special thanks to  Ann Swerdfager and Antoni Cimolino.



To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.