Juilliard Drama Division, 3rd Year Shakespeare Rep
When I was in college, I thought that our era’s feminist critical consciousness meant that there was no reason to ever produce TAMING OF THE SHREW.
It’s the only play I’ve directed twice.
My college self was right in at least one respect: SHREW is a tricky story to tell today. Especially if you want to both keep the comedy and honor the truth of Kate’s experience through to the end of the play. I did.
I believe that Kate and Petruchio actually love each other. They belong together, in part because neither one fits comfortably in the world they inhabit. I wanted Kate’s father’s world in Padua to be a fun, breezy place of moneyed comfort; Petruchio is pressing his nose up to the glass, envying what he sees. But it is clearly a world of and for men; there is no place for a strong, smart, opinionated woman. The world’s refusal to accept Kate for who she is makes her into the raging “shrew” we see at the beginning of the play.
Outside Kate’s father’s world, Kate and Petruchio ultimately find a way to live with and love each other. Unfortunately, it seems not to survive their return to Padua. Petruchio gets sucked into betting on her “obedience”; in our production, Kate overhears him making that bet and realizes she is suddenly alone. The bet is a moment of male-bonding ugliness that prompts her famous last speech.
Ultimately, I wanted to tell a story that included the possibility of growth. In our production, Petruchio realizes that this “obedient” Kate is not the same feisty spirit he fell for. Rather than join the boys to celebrate winning the bet, he throws away the money and helps Kate up from the ground in a final gesture of reconciliation.
This production at Juilliard was part of a two play rep. All 16 third-year actors rehearsed SHREW and ROMEO & JULIET (with another director) simultaneously and performed them in rep.
Cast: Helen Cespedes, Fiona Cheung, Tom Datnow, Phoebe Dunn, Adam Farabee, Jenny Di Gennaro, Danny Hernandez, Katharine Lorraine, Mike Shaw, Ali Sohaili, Andrea Syglowski, Jeremy Tardy, Nathasha Warner, Kerry Warren, Noah Witke, Katherine Wood
Designers: Betsy Adams, Junghyun Georgia Lee, Jessica Pabst, David Van Tieghem