In Shakespeare’s As You Like It, we follow the main character Rosalind as she’s cast out of the Court and decides to dress herself as a man and take on a new name—Ganymede. In traditional readings of the play, Rosalind’s Ganymede is a choice for protection, a mask, a comedic device, and ultimately something she can choose to step out of at any moment. Because underneath it all, she is still a woman.
But…what if it weren’t that simple?
What if Rosalind’s gender exploration throughout the play was actually a deeper, authentic expansion of self?
Our dominant culture is coming to understand gender as something greater than the man/woman/other options we were taught, as something more akin to a galaxy of moving and interrelated gender options. Desdemona Chiang’s As You Like It views Rosalind’s changes within a limitless gender space. She is on a gender journey beyond masculine and feminine that will continue even when the play ends in marriage. Which begs the question:
How does her transition impact her romance with Orlando? What does loving outside the binary look like?
Members of our Artistic Engagement team along with Desdemona Chiang (director), Jessika D. Williams (Rosalind) and Maryssa Wanlass (Celia) explored these questions and more with a group of trans, non-binary, 2-spirit, genderqueer young people at Youth UpRising in East Oakland on May 9th. We talked about gender and love and bodies. We talked about relationships and names. How it feels to really be seen by someone you care about. What it means to embrace the truth of our ever-shifting selves.
During the run of As You Like It, our lobby at the Bruns features photos, writing, and conversation shared in this workshop. Make sure to stop by to see the full installation when you see the show! As You Like It runs through June 18, tickets and information available here.
All photos KaliMa AmiLak. KaliMa is an Oakland-based photographer, aspiring performing artist, and model. A native from Brooklyn, New York, KaliMa has transplanted to California to expand the discovery of herself and her artistry. She currently runs a Photography studio at American Steel Studios with a focus on portraiture, fashion, commercial and editorial work.