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New Contest! November 1, 2011 12:00 AM | Tagged as contest, movie

 

Play of the Month PLUS New Contest Question

For the first play that we will focus on, I had a hard time deciding which it should be. Should I pick my favorite play, or the most popular play? The ones we are more aware of or the little known plays? What I finally decided on was the play that first got me to LOVE Shakespeare! That play is The Taming of the Shrew. I think the first time I saw this play that I remember, is when I saw the 1967 movie version and best version in my opinion, starring Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton. I have no idea how old I was when I saw it but I think I would have been around 12-14 years old. That is also when I decided that I wanted to name my first daughter Katherine (although we spelled hers with a “ryn”). 

The play was written around 1590-1594. It appears to have been adapted from an earlier play entitled The Taming of A Shrew. But Shakespeare’s version seems to be better written and the plot lines are more coherent.* 

The play opens with a section referred to as the Induction sets the stage with a character named Christopher Sly, who is at a tavern talking with hostess, when he falls asleep and in comes a Lord with his attending men. They carry his to his room, and then a group of players show up at the tavern. Sly later returns with the group and eventually the players proceed to put on a play for the assembled group. They play is what we regularly see as the play, “The Taming of the Shrew”. This first bit is kind of a prolog that is rarely shown in performances of this play. Of the dozens of times I have seen it, I have only seen this part added once. Most shows begin with one of our heroes, Lucentio and his man, Tranio arriving in Padua, ready to study. Lucentio soon sees Bianca and all thoughts of study are gone and he is just focused on winning her love. He soon learns that Bianca, who has many suitors, may not marry until her shrewish, older sister, Katherina, has found a husband. Hence, the search for the “superman” who can tame and win Katherina begins. This play has some of the best back and forth banter between Katherina and would be suitor, Petruchio. There are numerous storylines in this play which all get neatly sorted by the end, and the end is delightful!

Numerous versions of this storyline have been made into movies, from Kiss Me Kate, to 10 Things I Hate About You. The actual play tends to have controversy because of the way portrayal of the women so that many in today’s society do not think it is a very politically correct play. I think that is a very stupid reason for not seeing this play. In the time period that it was written, that is how women were treated! What better way to let girls and women see how far we have come since the 1600’s than to have them watch this? 
Then there is the bigger question of who was really tamed?   Was it Katherina or Petruchio? I feel both were tamed by each other. But either way, it is a great play to start with because it is so fun! I feel this is the play the kids should be reading this play to introduce them to Shakespeare and not Romeo and Juliet!
Watch for some of the best quotes from this month’s featured play throughout the month but my favorite part is Katherina’s speech near the end of the play. Here is part of that speech from Act 5 scene 2:
Fie, fie! unknit that threatening unkind brow,
And dart not scornful glances from those eyes,
To wound thy lord, thy king, thy governor:
It blots thy beauty as frosts do bite the meads,
Confounds thy fame as whirlwinds shake fair buds,
And in no sense is meet or amiable.
A woman moved is like a fountain troubled,
Muddy, ill-seeming, thick, bereft of beauty;
And while it is so, none so dry or thirsty
Will deign to sip or touch one drop of it.
Thy husband is thy lord, thy life, thy keeper,
Thy head, thy sovereign; one that cares for thee,
And for thy maintenance commits his body
To painful labour both by sea and land,
To watch the night in storms, the day in cold,
Whilst thou liest warm at home, secure and safe;
And craves no other tribute at thy hands
But love, fair looks and true obedience;
Too little payment for so great a debt.
Sources:
*The Arden Shakespeare-The Complete Works of Shakespeare
 
 
November’s trivia question is:
What was Katherina and Bianca’s fathers name?
Email your answers to leslie@charmedbyshakespeare.com. Include your answer, name and email address. At the end of the month, all the names with the correct answers will be put into a drawing to win the "The Taming of the Shrew” charm which is the sun coming out of a cloud. Go to our “product” page to see it and the accompanying quote.