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Home :: Archive :: 1997 :: September ::
Re: Sly and Shrew
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 8.0969.  Monday, 29 September 1997.

[1]     From:   Mike Jensen <
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        Date:   Friday, 26 Sep 1997 17:24:46 +0100
        Subj:   SHK 8.0961  Re: Christopher Sly and Shrew Queries

[2]     From:   David Evett <
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        Date:   Friday, 26 Sep 1997 12:53:06 -0400
        Subj:   Re: SHK 8.0961  Re: Christopher Sly and Shrew Queries

[3]     From:   David Skeele <
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        Date:   Friday, 26 Sep 1997 14:54:11 -0400
        Subj:   Re: SHK 8.0961  Re: Christopher Sly and Shrew Queries

[4]     From:   Cora Lee Wolfe <
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        Date:   Friday, 26 Sep 1997 19:21:58 -0600
        Subj:   Re: SHK 8.0961  Re: Christopher Sly and Shrew Queries

[5]     From:   Larry Weiss <
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        Date:   Sunday, 28 Sep 1997 15:11:00 -0400
        Subj:   Taming of the Shrew


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Mike Jensen <
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Date:           Friday, 26 Sep 1997 17:24:46 +0100
Subject: Re: Christopher Sly and Shrew Queries
Comment:        SHK 8.0961  Re: Christopher Sly and Shrew Queries

Oh, that Sly Shrew.  The debate is endless because the questions are
currently unanswerable.

I doubt that Fletcher's play The Tamer Tamed can shed light on this
issue, but let's at least take a look.  I do not have a copy at hand so
we are going on my creaky memory here.

For any who don't know, Fletcher was a principle dramatist for The
King's Men after Shakespeare's retirement.  They even collaborated on
two or three plays (that is debated).  The Tamer Tamed is Fletcher's
sequel to Shrew.  As I recall Christopher Sly is not in the play, nor is
the framing device used.  Could it be that the device did not work as
hoped on stage?  Could it have been dropped whilst Shrew was in
production, or during a rewrite before a revival?  Since we don't REALLY
know what the folio text is based on, it is difficult to know how well
if reflects the intent of the author and producers.

I am not saying I believe this suggestion.  I don't.  I do think the
question is worth raising, tossing into the mix, and letting others see
if anything can be made of it.  I've taken it as far as my imagination
permits.

Two other thoughts:

1)  Though I personally find Jonathan Miller's approach to the play the
most rewarding, and there is certainly justification for it in the text,
my first impression of The Tamer Tamed (I have read it only once) is
that it is the kind of knockabout play that Miller (and I) find so
dull.  Since Fletcher was closer to the original production than we are,
could that be a clue as to how the King's Men enacted Shrew?

2)  I long wondered why some enterprising theater company didn't mount
Shew and Tamed in rep.  Seems like a great idea for a double bill.  Then
I read The Tamer Tamed.  It's pretty awful.  And repetitious.  And
unimaginative.  Now I understand.

Cheers,
Mike Jensen

[2]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           David Evett <
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Date:           Friday, 26 Sep 1997 12:53:06 -0400
Subject: 8.0961  Re: Christopher Sly and Shrew Queries
Comment:        Re: SHK 8.0961  Re: Christopher Sly and Shrew Queries

Sean Lawrence is right on to place playing as a recurrent feature of
*Shrew* whose ubiquity makes it an urgent if not often an explicit
theme.  His list of instances should include Bianca playing submissive
maiden, Baptista and Vincentio playing patriarch, the masters Lucentio
and Hortensio playing tutor-servants, and of course Tranio the servant
playing the master Lucentio.  Sean might also have observed that playing
destabilizes what passes for reality on and off the stage in ways that
allow for the construction of new and more generous versions-though as
often in Shakespeare these may well involve the resumption of old roles
in revised attitudes.

Ludic-rously,
Dave Evett

[3]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           David Skeele <
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Date:           Friday, 26 Sep 1997 14:54:11 -0400
Subject: 8.0961  Re: Christopher Sly and Shrew Queries
Comment:        Re: SHK 8.0961  Re: Christopher Sly and Shrew Queries

> 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.

This is exactly the kind of approach to SHREW that makes my stomach
turn.  I can respect any production which dares to look the
Kate/Petruchio relationship right in the face-either historicist
treatments which explore it in terms of Elizabethan sexual/social mores
or more contemporary readings which examine it in the light of
contemporary sexual politics-but the Stratford treatment, as described
above, sounds like utter avoidance of any of the gender issues raised by
the play.  Though it probably was intended to make the play more
commercially palatable to the tour-bus crowd, I would think revealing
the whole plot as a set-up would make most audience members feel a
little ripped-off: like having Macbeth, at the end of the play, wake to
the adoring face of Lady Macbeth and say "Oh, darling, what a terrible
dream I just had."

Having said all this, I remind myself that I recently chided a fellow
SHAKSPERean for criticising production concepts that he had not himself
seen in action.  Thus, I would welcome having my view of this one
attacked or corroborated by those who were actually there.

Shrewishly,
David Skeele

[4]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Cora Lee Wolfe <
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Date:           Friday, 26 Sep 1997 19:21:58 -0600
Subject: 8.0961  Re: Christopher Sly and Shrew Queries
Comment:        Re: SHK 8.0961  Re: Christopher Sly and Shrew Queries

When my senior class did Taming we set it in late 19th century Mexico.
My school is just a few miles from the border, and many of my students
were from Mexico.  It provided us with a nice colorful set and allowed
for some colorful simple costumes.  It was one of my favorite
productions.  My students did not want Katherine's spirit destroyed, and
suggested that we play it so that she was obviously somewhat attracted
to Petruchio  in spite of herself.  In the end she begins to enjoy the
game and delivers the final speech in that spirit.

I liked it, and that interpretation is certainly in keeping with most of
the rest of Shakespeare's women, strong willed and capable, in control.

[5]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Larry Weiss <
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Date:           Sunday, 28 Sep 1997 15:11:00 -0400
Subject:        Taming of the Shrew

(1)Pronunciation of "Petruchio":  The spelling of "Petrucio" in the
Italian speech at I.ii.25 (Riverside lineation) strongly suggests to me
that "Petruchio" is intended as a transliteration in which "ch" is
pronounced as in "China."

(2) "mistress"/"masters":  At line 18 in the same scene, Grumio is
taking a beating from Petruchio and pleads (according to F1):  "Help,
mistress, help, my master is mad."  Since Theobald, editors have amended
"mistress" to "masters", as there is no female character on stage.  Or
is there?  Remember the page in the gallery dressed like a lady,
pretending to be Sly's wife.  It seems to me a highly risible bit of
business for a clown to plead for help from a well-dressed member of the
audience, and it is one that is still used today.  Player-audience
interaction was certainly common on the Elizabethan stage, as WS showed
us in LLL, MND and even Hamlet.  The staging of HenV at the New Globe
makes good use of the practice.  I think it would be great fun to have
the complete T/S played this way at the Globe, perhaps with the addition
of the Sly scenes in "A Shrew" which are omitted from F1.  Mark Rylance,
help!
 

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