An English Theatre Milan Project

15 April | 6pm at All Saints Church, Via Solferino, 17
16 Apri l| 5.30pm at Spazio Alda Merini, Via Magolfa


ROSALIND Emma Burdett
CELIA Giulia Sara Gibbon
ORLANDO Melissa Marino
OLIVER Maria Makeever
TOUCHSTONE Maria Makeever
LA BELLEZZA Claudia Moltrasio
AMIENS Maria Makeever
JAQUES Claudia Moltrasio
HYMEN Catherine Bell
NARRATOR Louise Kissane
FORESTERS The Milan Singers

Director and adapter, Maggie Rose
Assistant director, Melissa Marino
Costume and props designer, Claudia Moltrasio
Songs and Music, Maria Makeever and The Milan Singers, directed by Amy Barton

As You Like it This Shakespeare comedy explores themes central to our lives: love and hate, tyranny and exile, forgiveness and reconciliation, court, city and country life, friendship bonds and gender issues. The play (written 1598 circa) still chimes loud in the present day, underscoring that even if life is full of adversity – Rosalind, Celia and Orlando are forced into exile in the forest of Arden since their families are feuding – these young people are looking for love and support each other. Human beings, moreover, can sometimes change radically when in contact with nature. While not idealizing ‘a return to nature’, Shakespeare shows how life in the forest gives Duke Senior (exiled by his brother Duke Frederick) a contentment and purpose in life, while Frederick, once in the forest, undergoes a religious conversion. In the forest Ganymede (Rosalind disguised as a man) and Orlando (in our production, a woman, playing a male role) are given a chance to get to know each other, free from the strict rules and constraints of Renaissance society. Oliver, Orlando’s elder brother, from being a selfish materialist, turns into a loving young man, who falls in love with Celia.
Our adaptation represents a reduced version of Shakespeare’s comedy based on a workshop designed for native and advance English speakers who are passionate about theatre and Shakespeare. The adaptation lasts about ninety minutes in an English that has been slightly modernized. It purports to highlight
two main issues: what a life close to nature can mean for so-called incomers, who have left the city and court behind them for the countryside. Many of us who live in overpopulated, polluted cities are toying with similar choices today. The melancholic figure of Jaques, for instance, another newcomer to the forest, deplores the practice of hunting, offering a gory description of the consequences and so suggesting the need to protect our natural environment.
Seeing our all-female cast and creative team, the play also addresses gender issues, from a female perspective. Today, when questions of gender identities are paramount, As You Like it allows us to uncover the state of play, when a woman, playing Rosalind, a female character, disguises to becomes the page Ganymede, who in turn plays the part of Rosalind, in order to woo Orlando. The ensuing ‘confusion’, as Hymen, the god of marriage, defines it, playfully but persistently digs deep into gender politics. Shakespeare prompts us to consider our gender identity as fluid, and changeable, performable and sometimes non-binary, allowing the characters, albeit for the duration of this comedy, the freedom to experiment with love ‘as you like it’ to echo the play’s title. As Jaques reminds us, “All the world’s a
stage’, so why not play our multiple and varied parts.


As You Like it is the Shakespearean comedy with most songs, some of which we decided to rewrite. Maria Makeever has reimagined several songs and written new lyrics, while Amy Barton, director of The Milan Singers, has arranged several musical scores. The participation of the Milan Singers has created
a very special musical As You Like it.


Guided by the concept of ‘thrifting’, spurred on by necessity but also environmental issues, Claudia Moltrasio has chosen the costumes and props, which are recycled or from vintage shops.


MAGGIE ROSE, director and adapter
Since the mid 1990s she has worked in Scotland and in Italy, as a writer, dramaturg and workshop leader, with Andy Arnold (the Arches and Tron), Graham Eatough (Oran Mor and Traverse), Carrie Cracknell (Traverse and a UK tour), Liz Lochhead (Casa degli Alfieri). She is a member of the Scottish Society of Playwrights. Several of her stage and radio plays, focusing on Italian migration to Scotland, such as Walking Through Stones and Six Month Here Six Months There, have been presented at the Edinburgh Fringe, The Gateway (Edinburgh) and Soho Theatre (London). Her recent work, exploring gardens and the environment in Shakespeare’s plays, includes Shakespeare in a Herb Garden, A Walk in Shakespeare’s Garden, Ophelia, Herb Woman (see Youtube: Ofelia donna delle erbe), the last two directed by Donatella Massimilla of CETEC (Centro europeo teatro e carcere). Shelley, a Diet for Peace, featuring Conrad Williamson as Shelley. and directed by Denise Stephenson, toured to Bologna, Piacenza and Milan’s Spazio Alda
Merini. It was presented in a mise en espace at Milan’s Piccolo Theatre, with Giuseppe Scutellà in the role of Shelley. She has led writing, performance and theatre translation workshops in major theatres, universities and prisons, such as the EU Lifelong Learning workshop, WWW.Venice. She co-led the translation and performance workshop “Intercultural Dialogues”, with guest practitioners, Hanif Kureishi, Kwame Kwei-Armah, Rani Moorthy and Arne Pohlmeier, supported by British Council. She currently co-leads the Shakespeare Prison workshop at Milan’s “Cesare Beccaria” Juvenile Detention Centre.
MELISSA MARINO, assistant director and ORLANDO
Melisa is a performer, director, and theatre administrator specializing in communication, education
and production. Born and raised in California, USA, she received her B.F.A. in Theatre Performance and B.A. In Italian Language and Culture simultaneously from Chapman University.  She then earned aMasters in Performing Arts Management from Accademia Teatro alla Scala in Milan, Italy. In the past she has worked with associations such as Teatro alla Scala and Milano Off Fringe Festival. She currently collaborates with Piccolo Teatro di Milano.  


AMY BARTON – DUKE SENIOR and Director of Milan Singers.
Amy began her life in music as a chorister in a program quite similar to the Youth Chorus of Milan of which she is Artistic Director. After a childhood in song, she went on to study music at Portland
State University in Portland, Oregon where she sang in university ensembles and was selected as a student intern for the Portland Opera. Her academic career then culminated in a Master Degree of Music in Vocal Performance at Florida State University in Tallahassee, Florida where she performed as a soloist in chamber music concerts, oratorios, and in leading roles with the Florida State Opera. In Milan, where she has lived since 2007, she has continued to share her music with others as a performer, educator, and fellow musician.


Catherine is from Belfast, Northern Ireland has a degree in Modern Languages and Literature from St Andrews University, Scotland and has lived in Italy for many years teaching English in the Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore, Milan. She loves the Arts in general and theatre in particular, having done some amateur dramatics as a girl and at university. She has sung in several choirs, around the world and took part in several play readings online during the Covid lockdown periods with some prestigious actors, such as Adjoa Andoh, Lady Danbury in Bridgerton.


Emma is an actor, writer, director and creator of workshops. Since 2017 she has been Artistic
Director of Real Talk Theatre Company, London. Real Talk Theatre went on to be a successfully
launched business with the Prince's Trust as of December 2018.The company was created with the
intention of delivering interactive workshops and performances about mental health to young adults
and children all over the UK It has been featured in the Huffington Post and I have been interviewed on Podcasts and Radio (LBC) to speak about the work that is offered. My core area of focus has been creating the content for the workshops and directing the performances, with the spotlight being on mental health awareness. I am the Writer, Director and Creator of Workshops and also responsible for organising the bookings, marketing the company, and delivering the specialist workshops and talks that Real Talk Theatre offers. During the lockdown I completed a Masters Degree in Psychology to improve my knowledge of mental health and to be able to extend the depth of my understanding of the subject.
Giulia trained an actress at ATIR – Teatro Ringhiera di Milano, directed by Serena Sinigaglia, whilst graduating with a B.A. in Human Science of Environment, Landscape and Territory and a M.A, in Music, Theatre and Film at Milan State University. Today her artistic research and training continues thanks to regular seminars with international theatre practitioners. She is specialised in circus skills, singing and dancing, while working as an actress, an assistant director, choreographer, dramatist, performer, rigger, speaker, stunt, technician and translator. Her work has been appreciated in theatres such as Grand Théâtre de Genève, Opéra de Dijon, Opéra Lorraine de Nancy, Opéra réale de Versailles, Piccolo Teatro di Milano, Teatro Comunale diBologna, Teatro dei Venti di Modena, Teatro della Società di Lecco, Teatro Donizetti di Bergamo, Teatro Massimo di Palermo, Teatro Municipale Romolo Valli di Reggio Emilia, Teatro Sociale di Como, Theater Kiel Aör.


Louise worked for 30 years in the printing and publishing industry as Company Director. She was also as a translator-interpreter in sales and marketing and ran her own business, establishing sales
offices world-wide.  Since taking up a career in theatre and drama, she has worked with Loredana Butti at Primostudio and for ten years in comedy with John Peter Sloan. 


Maria is a postgraduate of Indiana University, USA. She moved to Italy from the U.S. in 2020 with the goal of furthering her education in the communications sector. She has a wide range of skills and experiences to her name, having formally studied journalism, communications, and graphic design and worked with photography, marketing, and linguistics, She has played the role of an attorney in several mock trials in USA and is keen to develop her acting and songwriting skills further.

CLAUDIA MOLTRASIO – LA BELLEZZA and JAQUES and costumes and props.

Claudia is from Como. Her passion for English theatre started in High school when she took part in a production of Oscar Wilde’s “The Rose and the Nightingale”, during a study trip to Ireland. Since then, she started to attend and watch as much English theatre as possible. In 2020, right before the pandemic started, she flew to London to see “Cyrano de Bergerac” live, for the first time. Her favourite book is Mary Shelley’s “Frankenstein”, and her favourite adaptation of the book is a National Theatre Production directed by Danny Boyle, starring Benedict Cumberbatch and Johnny Lee Miller.

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