Go West Young Shrew

The National Players were at Owens Community College, in Perrysburg Ohio, last night (9/22/2011) performing a wild west interpretation of William Shakespeare’s The Taming of the Shrew. This interested me for two reasons firstly because as you may recall I have written papers on The Taming of the Shrew thus making it what the cowboys would call familiar territory. And secondly, if anyone has read “Souls are Wild” (Cross and Cosmos Issue 4) then you know that the Old west is also familiar territory for me.

 Sadly though Shakespeare’s entertaining Induction was cut, it almost always is, and replaced with a verisimilitude inducing prologue which provides the plot in a nut shell for those new to the play. Still it would have been interesting to see the drunk tinker Sly being kick out of a saloon and then getting taken in by a wealthy cattle baron.

 The set design was simple but very effective it consisted of two sets of swinging doors one stage left and the other stage right, the stage right doors decidedly more Saloon looking, and an open doorway center stage. The lumber, looking aged and weathered, was rough cut and gave a very Boomtown impression to the city ofPaduaItaly. I guess that made this a Spaghetti Western.

 The National Players gave a truly rough and tumble performance with comedic sound effects adding emphasis to stage punches and kicks. And in true frontier style extra effort went into making sure that none of Shakespeare’s physical innuendos went over anyone’s head. While, thankfully, the production avoided sprinkling Shakespeare’s words with the old western clichés of ‘taint and I reckon I do have to mention actor Chad Tallon who played Grumio. He managed to maintain a particularly thick “westerny” accent while at the same time speaking clearly and giving wonderfully comedic timing to an already hilarious character.

 Everyone who worked on this production did a great job and deserves praise but I only have so much room. Still, just one more nod. This nod goes to Costume designer Ivania Stack. All of the costumes looked fantastic and, I think, perfect for the time setting but I have to say that I really loved Kate’s coat that she wears in the final Act. It is just stunning and I really want one. Sorry I couldn’t find a picture.

 Unfortunately the there was only one performance at OCC but here’s the link to their web site. If anyone reading this hears about a production coming to your area I hope you’ll mosey on down and take in the show.

Shakespeare’s Crossover

Some of you may know that I have written and presented papers at the 2009 and 2010 Ohio Vally Shakespeare Conferences.

Both of these papers were based on Shakespeare’s play The Taming of the Shrew.  The 2009 paper was about screen adaptations of the play and the 2010 paper was focused on the mysterious “Induction” that is the introduction that actually has nothing to do with the main play which is really a play within the Induction. If you don’t follow my meaning please read the play.

Anyway while reading Romeo and Juliet I found an interesting line. It just wasn’t interesting enough to devote a paper to,  so now you get to read about  it in my Blog. 

In Romeo and Juliet at the end of the ball scene Juliet is asking her nurse the names of many young men in order to learn Romeo’s identity.

Juliet: What’s he that now is going out of door?

Nurse: Marry, that, I think, be young Petruccio. (1.5 127-128)

In case you aren’t familiar with  The Taming of the Shrew the main characters are named Katherine and Petruccio. The plot doth thicken for Romeo and Juliet  takes place in Verona, Italy. It just so happens that Petruccio is also from Verona. His entrance line in The Taming of the Shrew is “Verona, for a while I take my leave.(Shrew 1.2 1)” Thus saying that he lives in Verona but has left there for a temporary visit elsewhere.

That elsewhere is Padua, Italy where The Taming of the Shrew is set.

I am not the first one to make this connection, though, the 2006 YA novel Romeo’s Ex by: Lisa Fiedler included a young Petruccio as minor character in the story of Romeo and Juliet’s demise.

I suppose that it doesn’t really matter. It’s not like I can actually prove that Shakespeare meant for it be recognized as the same character. Though I do like to think that it was a special treat that he slipped in for his faithful play goers. On the other hand Petruccio is not the only name that Shakespeare recycled but I would never claim that the Katherine in Henry the VIIIth is the same one as in Shrew. 

I guess it’s up to people with higher degrees than mine to argue about it.