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Home :: Archive :: 1997 :: September ::
Re: Christopher Sly and Shrew Queries
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 8.0961.  Friday, 26 September 1997.

[1]     From:   Carl Fortunato <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 24 Sep 97 20:46:00 -0400
        Subj:   Re: Sly

[2]     From:   Sean Kevin Lawrence <
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        Date:   Thursday, 25 Sep 1997 11:04:26 -0700
        Subj:   RE: SHK 8.0957  Re: Christopher Sly

[3]     From:   Virginia Byrne <
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        Date:   Thursday, 25 Sep 1997 16:06:08 -0400 (EDT)
        Subj:   Re:  SHK 8.0953  Christopher Sly

[4]     From:   Shaula Evans <
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        Date:   Thursday, 25 Sep 1997 15:45:25 -0700 (PDT)
        Subj:   Another Shrew Question

[5]     From:   Carol A. Cole <
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        Date:   Thursday, 25 Sep 1997 20:30:30 -0400
        Subj:   Shrew Ending


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Carl Fortunato <
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Date:           Wednesday, 24 Sep 97 20:46:00 -0400
Subject:        Re: Sly

To: Julia Spriggs

 JS> A couple years ago, I remember reading The Taming of the Shrew for
an
 JS> English class.  Unlike most of the other students, I rather enjoyed
 JS> it, although one part had always bothered me.

 JS> The Taming of the Shrew is famous for being a play inside a play.
At
 JS> the beginning, they're talking of that drunken slob who the Lord
(if I
 JS> correctly recall) convinced Christopher Sly that he was the Lord,
and
 JS> then the actual Lord got his page to dress up as Christopher Sly's
 JS> wife.  Then that traveling acting company comes through and puts on
 JS> The Taming of the Shrew.  But Shakespeare never once went back and
told
 JS> whatever happened to Christopher Sly!  I have questioned my English
 JS> teachers ever since then about that.

Others will probably mention this, but there is an Elizabethan play
called the "Taming of *A* Shrew," that for many years was considered an
immediate source the "The Taming of *The* Shrew."  However, some people
think it may be a bad reconstruction of "The Taming of the Shrew."
Anyway, "*A* Shrew" features Christopher Sly (same name) throughout the
play, and it ends with him dumped back in the alley where he started,
telling the Tapster ("A Shrew's" version of the "Hostess") about the
dream he had.  The wrap-up goes like this:

        TAPSTER   I marry but you had best get you home,
      For your wife will course you for dreming here to night,

        SLIE    Will she?  I know now how to tame a shrew,
      I dreamt upon it all this night till now,
      And thou hast wakt me out of the best dreame
      That ever I had in my life, but Ile to my
      Wife presently and tame her too
      And if she anger me.

        TAPSTER  Nay tarry Slie for Ile go home with thee
      And hear the rest that thou hast dreamed to night.

                   *Exeunt Omnes*

Some scholars feel that this may be an inaccurate version of "The Taming
of The Shrew," reported by the actor who played Sly.  (NOTE: There are a
lot of problems with the theory that they are the same play.  Despite
the similarities, there are also some large differences.  I don't
actually endorse the view, but nobody has ever figured out exactly what
"A Shrew" is, and exactly what its relationship is to "The Shrew."
However, if that theory *is* accurate, then it seems likely that Sly's
lines may have some claim to accuracy.)

I have heard that sometimes the "extra" Sly scenes are lifted from "A
Shrew" and acted in some modern productions of "The Shrew," although I
have never seen one.

If you have any interest in "A Shrew," the full text is in the first
volume of Geoffrey Bullough's "Narrative and Dramatic Sources of
Shakespeare" (Library of Congress Number 57-9969), which is probably
available in your local library.

        - Carl (
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[2]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Sean Kevin Lawrence <
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Date:           Thursday, 25 Sep 1997 11:04:26 -0700
Subject: 8.0957  Re: Christopher Sly
Comment:        RE: SHK 8.0957  Re: Christopher Sly

Dear All,

The recent thread on Christopher Sly seems to miss something I think
essential to looking at the induction's place in the play as a whole:
the number of 'plays' in this play (therefore the number of levels of
'realities'), and their tendency to cross over.

The lord's 'practice' must be considered to itself be included within
the frame of the induction, and to include the whole of the trick on
Sly, including main plot, presented for his benefit.  In this case,
though, the play threatens to become overliteralized and collapse as Sly
demands to go to bed.  Similarly, Tranio identifies the entry of
Baptista, Katherina, Bianca, and Hortensio as "some show to welcome us
to town."  At first they stand aside to observe it, but then enter into
the action, violating the distinction between the show which welcomes
them and their own position as audience.  The pedant plays the role of
Vincentio, but overplays it, almost getting everyone into a mess.  And
this is not to touch upon the many roles played by Petruchio, or foisted
upon Katherine, that are made literal.

Playing, in this drama, seems to represent a force of instability,
threatening not only social and gender roles, but also sense of self
(Kate's and Sly's); moreover, it threatens our own sense of reality,
bolstered by our containing the play as something remote and enclosed.
Efforts (by Pope, for instance, who revived the final induction scene)
to enclose the play by tacking on a final induction, playing it matched
with _The Tamer Tamed_ or contextualizing it in sociological / political
terms seem to betray our uneasiness with it, our desire to keep it in
its place and to keep it from subverting our own enlightenment
prejudices.  Ultimately, the play itself, the play which violates
metaphysical and ontological categorization, is the shrew that we all
too often attempt to tame.

Cheers,
Sean Lawrence

[3]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Virginia Byrne <
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Date:           Thursday, 25 Sep 1997 16:06:08 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: 8.0953  Christopher Sly
Comment:        Re:  SHK 8.0953  Christopher Sly

Julia keep on truckin' despite teachers just  finished teaching Taming
to a group of Senior citizens...I think the best theory is that
Shakespeare wrote it fairly quickly, started out with an interesting
gimmick and was rushed to get it staged and dropped the Sly story...the
other theory is similar and that is that actors were doubling and he
just decided not to continue to story because it put too much stress on
them...

[4]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Shaula Evans <
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Date:           Thursday, 25 Sep 1997 15:45:25 -0700 (PDT)
Subject:        Another Shrew Question

First off, many thanks to everyone who some weeks ago responded to me
request for scene suggestions for one female and one male actor.  We
have wound up going with the meeting scene of Katherine and Petruchio
from Shrew (2.1)...so I am immensely enjoying all the Shrew discussion
going on right now (and trying desperately to decide how we will
pronounce P's name....)

A point of interest:  has anyone else remarked how Katherina states
quite plainly in our scene that while Petruchio insists on calling her
Kate, her name is Katherine...and yet all of *us* call her Kate as
well?  Somehow the feminist in me noticed how tradition has carried on
Petruchio's power of naming Katherine, rather than reflecting her own
wishes.  Interesting.

And a question:  early in 2.1, Petruchio lists of an enumeration of
names, including Kate of Kate-hall.  Hmmm  I have stretched my  limited
resources, and haven't found an explanation of what Kate-hall means, or
to what it might refer.  Any takers?

Thank you
Shaula Evans

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Shakespeare Kelowna

[5]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Carol A. Cole <
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Date:           Thursday, 25 Sep 1997 20:30:30 -0400
Subject:        Shrew Ending

Julia's recent question about Taming of the Shrew is prompting me to ask
one of my own.  This summer I saw the play performed at Stratford,
Ontario, where it was set in a 1950s Italian immigrant community in "New
Padua," aka New York.  What took me by surprise was the ending.  After
Katherine's submission in 5.2 that wins Petruchio's bet (and doubles her
dowry), they cut to another scene showing Katherine and Petruchio in bed
together gleefully counting their loot and throwing it around.  It
looked like the bet and submission scene were all a setup that they had
planned together ahead of time.  If any of you saw this production, did
you take it this way too?  Have any of you interpreted this scene as a
setup?  I should add that in this production, at the end of 5.1, where
Kate kisses Petruchio, Kate and Petruchio clearly realize that they love
each other.

Carol
 

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