As You Like It Director Kimberley Sykes talks about forests, the behaviour of trees and how they inspired her production.

The forest in Shakespeare's As You Like It is central part of the play and directors approaching the play have to decide how to show the forest and what it represents in their production. 

The Forest of Arden is a central part of Shakespeare's As You Like It.
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As You Like It Director Kimberley Sykes says: "I did a lot of reading into the way forests function and the societal behaviour of trees. When you look into trees and their behaviour, they’re extraordinary.

"There’s a network of roots in a forest, so all the trees are connected to each other. If one tree is struggling then other trees who have enough, will send nutrients to try and save that other tree through the root system, regardless of species. They believe – it sounds ridiculous(!) – the success of the forest depends on the success of every single tree within that forest."

She adds: "I took that as a metaphor for society, and what Shakespeare is asking us to think about as audience members watching this play, especially right now in a time of increased borders and a rise of – you could say – nationalism, and concern with ourselves."

Kimberley Sykes directing int he rehearsal room
As You Like It Director Kimberley Sykes

Celebrating theatre

We asked Kimberley about her vision for her production. She explained: "In many ways the play is a massive exploration of theatre itself. So there will be elements of panto, live music, stand-up comedy on stage. And there will be audience interaction, political debate and improvisation.

"Although everyone will look and feel very modern, we’ll be using a real mingle-mangle of costumes from different productions, and will be playing with different genres, different times, different periods. It’s going to be a real mish-mash that celebrates the art of theatre making.

"I would like for the audience to take away a new relationship with their own self. To feel that change is possible, and that change can come from working together, learning from each other and from being more honest. Being brave enough to jump off the cliff into the unknown!"