A Future at Home Blog

New Production of a Shakespeare Play to Feature a Cast almost Exclusively Aged over 70!

Veteran stars of stage and screen, including Geraldine James and Celia Bannerman, will perform in As You Like It in Stratford-upon-Avon.

A new production of a Shakespeare play is to feature a cast almost exclusively aged over 70.


Image source, Michael Bertenshaw and Malcolm Sinclair

Seasoned RSC performers Michael Bertenshaw, left, will play Oliver and Malcolm Sinclair, Orlando in As You Like It in Stratford Upon Avon from 17 June.
The RSC said the production, which typically depicts young love, will challenge preconceptions around ageing. Director Omar Elerian said the actors bring ‘huge experience, of both Shakespeare and life’.

‘There’s something really powerful in rediscovering the themes of freedom and love from the perspective of older age,’ Mr Elerian added. Actress Geraldine James makes her RSC debut in the role of the heroine Rosalind, with Malcolm Sinclair playing opposite. Maureen Beattie will play Celia, who falls in love with Oliver. Audiences will see the stage set as a rehearsal room, with performers sharing memories of a long-gone production of As You Like It, scripts in hand.

As You Like It is Olivier award-nominated director Omar Elerian’s first RSC production. Four younger actors will ‘act as understudies as well as participating in the act of conjuring the memory of this long gone production,’ the director said.

Isn’t it about time that we change our attitudes to ageing, generally? White hair doesn’t mean we don’t still like a mean martini, and a few wrinkles doesn’t mean we’re not ready to hit the dance floor. There is a difference between ‘elderly’ and ‘elder’ — the latter term conveys wisdom, experience, understanding, and the former only images of superfluity and decline.

Remember the kids’ book A Squash and a Squeeze by Julia Donaldson? It’s the ‘Wise Old Man’ who saves the day.

The play runs until 5 August at the Royal Shakespeare Theatre in Stratford.