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Shakespeare & Beyond

Rosalind: Shakespeare's Immortal Heroine - an excerpt

Rosalind“I just have to step on the stage, keep testing myself, keep running away to the woods, resisting being pinned down, labelled or reduced,” Michelle Terry said about playing Rosalind, the lead in Shakespeare’s As You Like It, in the Shakespeare’s Globe 2015 production. “What Rosalind is exploring is how to be, and that will never stop. You could talk about her forever.”

Terry, who was recently named the new artistic director of Shakespeare’s Globe, crops up throughout Angela Thirlwell’s new book Rosalind: Shakespeare’s Immortal Heroine.

This “biography” of Rosalind contains interviews and insights from Juliet Stevenson, Janet Suzman, Vanessa Redgrave, and others who have acted in or directed As You Like It, but it also explores the character’s literary antecedents and descendants, key turning points in her “life,” and her enduring appeal.

Another Terry, the famous Shakespearean actress Ellen Terry (1847-1928), is quoted elsewhere in the book as having “longed for centuries to make the attempt” to play Rosalind. The 19th-century Terry and her missed opportunity may have inspired the author of Peter Pan, J.M. Barrie, to write his 1912 play Rosalind, as the following excerpt from Thirlwell’s book reveals:

  1. This suggestion from Lois Potter, The Life of William Shakespeare: A Critical Biography (Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell, 2012), p. 235.
  2. Published in The Twelve-Poung Look and other plays by J.M. Barrie, (London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1921). Broadcast on BBC Radio 4, 3 June 2002.
  3. Information from Eileen Page who took the part of Beatrice Page at a rehearsal reading of Rosalind at the Park Theatre, London, 11 October 2015. Eileen was taught at RADA by Irene Vanbrugh who first played Barrie’s role and remembered Ellen Terry.


[…] ⇒ Related: Read an excerpt from Angela Thirlwell’s book, Rosalind: Shakespeare’s Immortal Heroine. […]

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