Canadian Stage interviews Anand Rajaram
Why do you think Shakespeare plays still resonate with people today and why do you think audiences eagerly return to see his plays at High Park year after year?
Shakespeare is still relevant and resonant because the thing that he really focuses on is what it means to be a human being, and what it means to be in conflict with systems of power. But really, all of that comes down to brothers fighting, siblings fighting, parents, and children fighting. Those are very strong themes in his stories. And that's kind of universal as far back as recorded history. And it's always been the same.
They're not fashionable based on specific events or ideas, things that are happening in his time, but much deeper about just the human experience of connection.
What makes As You Like It unique from the rest of Shakespeare’s plays?
As You Like It is particularly a unique story because, whereas some plays like Macbeth, or Midsummer Night's Dream have a strong plot that runs the whole way through the play, this play seems to have no plot. There's a very strong plot at the beginning, of characters being threatened who have to run away to the forest. But then suddenly, it becomes a completely different play.
It's like if you started with the Terminator, and then halfway through, it turns into Sleepless in Seattle. The play changes so dramatically, that you either have to think Shakespeare didn't know what he was doing, or he was exploring something more. And I think that's what's unique about this. It's a philosophical treatise in a way that the others are not quite as much.
Can you introduce the fabulous cast that will bring this play to life?
We have a really, really extraordinary cast. And the cast is a mix of, of all sorts of theatre performers. There are some performers who are from the world of Shakespeare, and there's others who are from the world of improv and comedy. This mix allows each person to learn from the other where the improv and comedy people maybe don't have as much experience doing Shakespeare, and vice versa. But they're all collectively learning together. And that's really exciting.
Make sure to get your Pay-What-You-Wish tickets to see As You Like It, on stage now until September 4.