Elliott's highly influential production was dominated by Vanessa Redgrave's luminous performance as Rosalind.

Young radiant smiling woman wearing a man's short-sleeved shirt with belt and cap holds a letter
Vanessa Redgrave as a radiant Rosalind, 1961, Royal Shakespeare Theatre
Photo by Angus McBean © RSC Browse and license our images


Michael Elliott's 1961 As You Like It was the RSC's first production of the play. The production's success and enduring reputation owed much to Vanessa Redgrave's legendary Rosalind and Richard Negri's striking designs. The production transferred to London's Aldwych Theatre in 1962, where Patrick Allen replaced Ian Bannen as Orlando and Patrick Wymark took over from Colin Blakely as Touchstone. The following year, an adapted version was televised by the BBC.


Vanessa Redgrave was just 24 when she played Rosalind at the Royal Shakespeare Theatre but her thrilling performance drew universal praise. The critic Bernard Levin was enchanted by the depth and naturalness of her performance, as if she wasn't acting at all. Michael Billington noted that "her whole performance was about the poleaxing effect of passion" Great performances: Vanessa Redgrave in As You Like It, Guardian website, 27 April 2015. Discarding her formal court dress, Redgrave's Rosalind donned a casual tunic, hid her hair under a cap and emerged into the Forest of Arden, a joyously liberated Ganymede.


"A good set will create a world which enables the play to happen fully and convincingly on all levels, whilst good costume will clarify the strong individuality of the various characters" Richard Negri interviewed by Simon Trussler, Plays and Players, May 1964.

The 1961 production of As You Like It reunited the creative team of director Michael Elliott , designer Richard Negri and lighting designer Richard Pilbrow, all of whom had worked previously on Ibsen's Brand at the Lyric Theatre, Hammersmith.

The set for the 1961 As You Like It was inspired by an old tree in Richmond Park, where director Elliott had taken his family for a picnic. He returned later with Negri and insisted he sat under the tree. For the production, a huge oak tree stood at the top of a steeply raked stage, dominating both Duke Frederick's court and the pastoral idyll of Arden. Scenes played at different levels and projected images recreated dappled light in the forest or the grille of an iron gate in a courtyard.

Coloured costume design for Jaques in As You Like It 1961 showing a figure in dark clock with fur trim and hat
Richard Negri's costume design for Jaques (Max Adrian) sitting under the tree in As You Like It, 1961, Royal Shakespeare Theatre.
Designed by Richard Negri © RSC Browse and license our images
Head and shoulders photo of a young smiling woman wearing a floppy cap, looking at a young man

FOCUS ON A SCENE: Act 3 Scene 2

"I will speak to him like a saucy lackey, and under that habit play the knave with him." Rosalind

This scene takes place in the Forest of Arden where a pining Orlando has been hanging poems to Rosalind from the trees.

Corin and Touchstone discuss the differences between the court and the country.

Rosalind discovers Orlando's poems which Celia and Touchstone ridicule.

They draw off when Orlando arrives with the melancholic Jaques, who eventually leaves the young man alone.

Rosalind, disguised as Ganymede, introduces herself to Orlando and tells him how she can cure his lovesickness.

In the next gallery you can see relevant prompt book pages with stage directions, revealing how the scene appeared in production at the Aldwych Theatre, London, in 1962.

Theatrical programme for As You Like It 1961 with black title one red background and white Stratford swan emblem



Royal Shakespeare Theatre

Max Adrian - Jaques

Paul Bailey - Dennis, Wrestler’s Second

Ian Bannen - Orlando

Richard Barr - Unnamed parts

Michael Blackham - Unnamed parts

Colin Blakely - Touchstone

Sebastian Breaks - Charles, Unnamed parts

David Buck - Oliver

Patsy Byrne - Audrey

Tony Church - Duke Frederick

Jill Dixon - Phoebe

Eric Flynn - Amiens

Maroussia Frank - Unnamed parts

Gordon Gostelow - William

Peter Holmes - Unnamed parts

Russell Hunter - Corin

Roger Jerome - Unnamed parts

James Kerry - Lord

Rosalind Knight - Celia

Narissa Knights - Unnamed parts

Peter McEnery - Silvius

Bruce McKenzie - Unnamed parts

Gareth Morgan - Lord 1, Unnamed parts

Michael Murray - Unnamed parts

Rosemary Mussell - Unnamed parts

Redmond Phillips - Duke Senior

Vanessa Redgrave - Rosalind

Ian Richardson - Jaques de Boys, Le Beau

Clifford Rose - Adam

Michael Stephens – Page 2

Barry Stockwell – Page 1

William Wallis - Lord 2, Sir Oliver Martext

Georgina Ward - Unnamed parts

Brian Wright - Unnamed parts





Director – Michael Elliott

Designer – Richard Negri

Lighting Designer – Richard Pilbrow

Music – George Hall

Movement - Litz Pisk

Fight arranger - Charles Alexis


The RSC's archive is held at the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust. You can visit the Library and Archives there to look at production related information, including photos, videos of shows and stage management documents:

Shakespeare Centre Library and Archive homepage

You can search the RSC catalogue here: 

RSC performance database

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