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Home :: Archive :: 1997 :: September ::
Re: Casting Suggestion for Shrew
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 8.0915.  Thursday, 11 September 1997.

From:           Gil Harris <
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Date:           Monday, 08 Sep 1997 11:48:00 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: 8.0904 Casting Suggestion for Taming of The Shrew
Comment:        RE: SHK 8.0904 Casting Suggestion for Taming of The Shrew

In response to Richard Nathan's query, I directed a production of
_Taming of the Shrew_ last year at The Kitchen Theatre in Ithaca, NY, in
which all the characters from the main play, but not the induction
framework, were cross-cast. The last scene was set in a Karaoke bar, and
featured the actor playing Katherina lip-synching that difficult last
speech to a recording made by the actress playing Petruchio. The
cross-casting helped lend an unexpected spin to certain otherwise inert
lines and episodes (e.g. Lucentio's remark that Tranio is "as secret and
dear" to him "as Anna to the Queen of Carthage was" [1.1.147-48], or
Petruchio's "mak[ing] the woman of" Vincentio [5.5.36]); and when framed
by the conventionally cast induction scenes, the cross-cast main play
repeatedly foregrounded the sheer performativity of gender. For example,
the page who is dressed up as Sly's wife in the induction, and of whom
the Lord says "if the boy have not a woman's gift/ To rain a shower of
commanded tears,/ An onion will do well for such a shift,/ Which, in a
napkin being close conveyed,/ Shall in despite enforce a watery eye"
(Ind.1.120-24), resurfaced in the main play as Bianca, and still in
possession of the Lord's onion-which served to lend extra piquancy to
Katherina's caustic observation about her: "It is best/ Put finger in
the eye, an she knew why" (1.1.78-79).

The production was filmed, and I might be able to make a limited number
of video copies available to interested SHAKSPER list members.  Please
contact me off the list at <
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 >.

Best wishes,
Jonathan Gil Harris
Ithaca College
 

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