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Home :: Archive :: 1998 :: March ::
Re: Shrew; Editions; Casting Oth.
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 9.0231  Tuesday, 17 March 1998.

[1]     From:   J. Kenneth Campbell <
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        Date:   Sunday, 15 Mar 1998 00:51:28 -0800
        Subj:   Re: SHK 9.0201  Re: Shrew

[2]     From:   Annalisa Castaldo <
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        Date:   Sunday, 15 Mar 1998 16:48:15 -0500 (EST)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 9.0227 Q: Editions

[3]     From:   Dale Lyles <
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        Date:   Monday, 16 Mar 1998 13:02:00 EST
        Subj:   Re: Othello Casting



[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           J. Kenneth Campbell <
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Date:           Sunday, 15 Mar 1998 00:51:28 -0800
Subject: 9.0201  Re: Shrew
Comment:        Re: SHK 9.0201  Re: Shrew

In every other Shakespeare comedy, it is the woman who are the wise
teachers. Unless you count MSND and MfM.  Shakespeare's writes one play,
within a play, twice, I might add,  Larry Weiss <
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 > This point
comes through more clearly in "A Shrew," which continues Sly as an
occasional commentator on the play he is seeing (in brief segments which
are perhaps included to remind the audience of the context) and has him
appear, restored to his condition of a tinker, in an epilogue (after
Kate's problematical speech).  He then observes to the tapster, who has
also mysteriously reappeared, that he had a fine dream which taught him
how to tame a shrewish wife, and he will go home and practice his newly
learned skills on his own wife.  The joke is that we know he is doomed
to failure and will, in consequence, suffer even more, in which a man
teaches a woman and he is a sexist.

It is not good enough to simply work from what is on the page in one
scene, One must investigate the entire play, for all the pieces to fall
into place.

Before Petruchio enters Padua we get a good look at Kate.  I think we
will all agree she is not a happy lady.  Every man in town it seems is
afraid of her and in love with her sister.  Now, maybe today she would
have become a great feminist lawyer, and joined Gloria Allred's firm but
in Padua in the 16th century, she was sunk.

Indeed, she is so miserable that as she leaves the stage in II,1, she
cries out
"I will go sit and weep till I can find occasion for revenge" judging
from the pitch of the preceding scene, Petruchio who is coming on stage
as she leaves it must hear this.  Petruchio comes face to face with
Bionca at this time and is unmoved.  This is a man who wants a spirited
woman.

Which brings up the question; how does Petruchio get revenge?  Answer:
he takes your money.

When his best friend gets clobbered with a lute because Kate sees he is
only teaching her music to get close to her sister, Petruchio roars his
approval and swears he loves her ten time more then he did before.

After he shares his plan with the audience of how to woo this women,
upon Kate's entrance, he is so moved by her presents and beauty he has
to tell himself ,out load, to speak.  A theatrical technique used by
Shakespeare to denote love at first sight.  By the end of his first
speech he is on his knees proposing to her.

Kate is the one who mistreats him and when he beats her at word play as
is indicated by a break in scansion, she strikes him.   Does he hit her
back?  No! Petruchio only threatens to hand "cuff" her if she does it
again.

When next Petruchio appears he gives her a taste of what it would be
like to be married to the male version of Katerina.  He arrives late,
dressed outrageously and he appears drunk.  There is method to his
madness.  He reels off all the worst kinds of "state sanctioned"
marriages to Kate's horror.  He refers to her as "My goods, my chattel
etc. He thanks the guests for witnessing his giving himself away.   He
then,  takes up the role that men have afforded to their wives and
children since the beginning of time, that of protector.

He protects her from those who would steal her from him, he protects her
from those who would poison her, he protects her from those who would
make her uncomfortable while she slept and from those who would make her
a slave to fashion.

We must remember that Petruchio does not want to end victoriously he
politically begins his reign to end successfully, with successors,
(children).  He doesn't charge upstairs and demand his coital rights.
He even asks the audience if anyone has a better way to form a union
with this woman.

Kate in the next scene with Grumio admits she does not know how to
entreat "nor never needed that she should entreat." Petruchio simply
gives her the same lesson we would give any child, say please and thank
you, and you can have anything you want.  Treat people the way you would
like to be treated.

The climax of the play happens on the road back to Padua.  Petruchio
teaches Kate how to play together and how to have some good natured fun.

If you play with me, I'll be your best friend.  Kate demonstrates she
can play as well as anyone.  We now see the Shrew has learned to be
shrewd.

Vincento refers to her as his merry mistress.  Kate does not speak for a
long time afterwards.  Then, when she suggests to Petruchio that they go
in and find out how the subplot works out.  Petruchio demands a kiss and
Kate is only reluctant to give him one for modesty sake.   When she does
give him a small kiss it is a small surrender,  a surrender that
Petruchio seems very moved by.

Stevie Simkin

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What I do see in the text, is a speech that can be read as disturbingly
misogynistic.  Arguments can be and have been made, that Kate is being
ironic, or even sharing a tongue-in-cheek joke with Petruchio, to defend
Shakespeare's intentions-but at least they tend to be based on real
textual evidence, and not non-existent stage direction. Why else would
Shakespeare have her hand placed so?

What is there in Petruchio's previous behavior to suggest that, after
such an affront as toppling him over in front of his friends, there
wouldn't be fresh tortures-more food
and sleep deprivation, perhaps?--awaiting Kate at home?  When the rest
of the table at the marriage banquet for Bionca insult Kate, Petruchio
makes them pay with their wallets.
I believe Petruchio has no friends he prizes more then his marriage or
300 crowns for that matter.  Three hundred Crowns in today's currency is
a substantial amount of cash.  He must surrender to Kate here to win the
larger prize.  Kate as a fun loving equal.

If Grumio goes to Kate with the "intelligence" when she is summoned and
she knows there is "big money" riding on her return,  that is a pretty
good revenge.

Baptista sees where the power in his succession is going to reside and
throws in another 20,000 crowns.

One only has to look at the structure of her last speech to instantly
know she is up to something.  It is flowery and arch and not at all
Kate.  Shakespeare is too good a playwright to expect us to swallow
Kates words on face value.

Petruchio's actions that simply do not seem supported by the text.  The
most powerful production I have ever seen assumed that Kate, after
having suffered the horrific treatment that is now recognized as the
modus operandi of cults and other brainwashers, literally means every
word of her final speech (though such belief, in this actress'
interpretation, clearly came at great psychic cost).  It was a startling
and chilling interpretation, but the resonance of that final speech,
taken at face value, has never left me.

If we are to believe that this is comedy and a love story as I believe
it is then what is love but surrender of self for the protection of the
union.

I have seen productions where Petruchio kicks Kate away because her
spirit is broken and he know longer wants her.   That production made me
painfully aware of why A. A  Rowse had nothing but contempt for most so
called interpreters of the " text".  They had not the accents of
Christians, the gait of Christian, Pagan or men.

[2]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Annalisa Castaldo <
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 >
Date:           Sunday, 15 Mar 1998 16:48:15 -0500 (EST)
Subject: 9.0227 Q: Editions
Comment:        Re: SHK 9.0227 Q: Editions

I used the Norton for my class last semester and found it quite good. I
taught an intro class and had very few English majors; most of my
students had only read two or three plays, and those mostly in high
school. From this I assume the notes would be sufficient for any group,
since they were fine for my class. The students actually liked having
the definitions separate from the explanatory notes.

The reason I chose the Norton was that it was the only text which had
both notes and the Quarto/Folio King Lear (in addition to the regular
conflated one). Is that important to you?

Annalisa Castaldo
Temple University

[3]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Dale Lyles <
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Date:           Monday, 16 Mar 1998 13:02:00 EST
Subject:        Re: Othello Casting

Someone questioned why there was not the brouhaha over blackfaced
Otellos that there seems to be over similarly made-up Othellos.  Ken
Ludwig's *Lend Me a Tenor* seems to raise just such a brouhaha
everywhere it's performed with its dueling Othellos in blackface, even
though the makeup here is a blatant farcical device and not an attempt
to make a white actor into a black character.  Any postmodern
reasoning/analysis for this one?

Dale Lyles
Newnan Community Theatre Co.
 

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