The Wisdom of Shakespeare Series
in

AS YOU LIKE IT
by
Peter Dawkins

1998

Foreword by Mark Rylance


I would guess that Wisdom is the marriage of love with knowledge. For wisdom, as I have experienced it, is knowledge shared in the right way at the right time to be of benefit; and love, intuitive love, may be the only guide as to how and when one speaks with benefit.

Shakespeare didn't bother too much with the printed page it seems, trusting his knowledge to the voices and ears of the theatre, which only survives by an intuitive sense of timing with present circumstance. The 400 years of readjustment of the form which Shakespeare's knowledge takes has kept alive his ability to be wise. It is difficult to imagine Rosalind curing Orlando of his love sickness, or Jacques cleansing 'the foul body of th' infected world' merely by means of a book. Both characters invest themselves in the motley of disguise, one as Ganymede, one as a fool, because play-acting such as this gives one the ability to be speaking and also listening at the same time. The sense of timing and awareness great Lovers and Fools develop from this listening enables them to speak with devastating benefit.
Peter Dawkins too has shared his knowledge orally up to this point, speaking with a listening ear directly to small groups, judging moment by moment when and how to speak. I have listened and spoken about Shakespeare with Peter Dawkins for the past ten years. He has advised on no less than ten separate productions in Britain and America, including this year's As You Like It in the Globe. Although his ideas are mercurial, constantly changing shape as our times change and the plays themselves reflect different meanings, they continue to spring faithfully from a Jovial wisdom about Love, which I have found to be at the heart and core of Shakespeare.
I am delighted that he is publishing his ideas on Shakespeare's plays for the first time in this Wisdom of Shakespeare Series, as they have more than any other single factor--apart from playing in the Globe--increased my understanding and enjoyment of Shakespeare, but I am also aware that this book cannot listen to you, it cannot apply its author's timing, or care to match his knowledge to the degree of desire with witch you wish to question.
Peter's way is to explore the underlying structure of the plays which imitate the underlying structure of life itself as interpreted by such traditions as that of the Kabala, Hermeticism or Alchemy, and other teachings from the Western Mystery Tradition. In these traditions, it was important not only for the mind to be inspired by what is saw and heard, but also for the emotions to be stirred and moved. Read imaginatively, this book can be a path for lovers out of the court and up to the discernable edge of the deepest forests of Shakespeare. But you must still then enter the unknown dark and listen in your heart for your own motleyed Shakespeare, page and hidden princess, until you cry out in despair with Orlando, 'I can no longer live by thinking!'
Whether you are an actor person like me reading this book to help you play on the stage, or an actual person reading to help you play in the yards and galleries of the Globe, As You Like It lives as you are like it
and as you are like it will be as you like it.

M. R.