By Joseph Garcia —
This article is in companion with a review for “The Taming of the Shrew” found here.
When the curtain fell for “the Taming of the Shrew,” there were mixed opinions and some confusion to its ending.
“At the beginning, I thought it was going to be a show about empowering women and I kept waiting for a dramatic turn, but it never came,” commented freshman Asim Hameed.
The directors and a few cast members came back on stage afterwards to host their talkback. Audience members could ask any questions about the play and have a discussion.
In her referendum, Director J. Ariadne Calvano said, “The production is set in 1963, the year Betty Friedan’s The Feminine Mystique was published, President Kennedy was assassinated, and the cultural landscape was shifting.”
Against this backdrop, the U of L production of Taming challenges the traditional labeling of Kate as a “shrew.”
This juxtaposition allowed difficult questions to be brought up like the effect of gender roles, race and social class.
Calvano wanted to highlight how stories from Elizabethan England, 1960’s America and other modern social constructs affect women and how they present themselves today.
One audience member recounted in the talkback that because it was originally written so long ago, the play was hard to follow.
“It was difficult for his audiences as well. That’s not how they spoke off stage,” Janna Segal, the dramaturge for the play, said.
“So you usually have a play that starts with a long prologue or a long monologue that gives the audience time to adjust.”
However, for this play, Segal said there was a sort of double adjustment due to the setting.
“What we did with the adaptation is we took the induction, that framing device that is in Shakespeare’s play, but we put it in a contemporary language and setting, so the ear has to adjust twice, so we made it a bit more difficult,” Segal said.
All of this worked though as the language and setting actually brought up how misogynistic the play is.
One audience member told the directors how the play felt like the physical embodiment of the pushback against the #MeToo movement.
“This play is still considered a comedy. We still teach it as a comedy, why? We are subconsciously being taught to laugh at the taming of a shrew,” Segal said.
For actress Kayla Ross, who played the “shrewish” Katherine, there was a lot of work to make the ending right for her character.
“I realized I could not change the text, or how the way the last part of the text was written. However, I could decide what it meant to me and I tried to deliver it in a way that, yes, this is what is being said, but internally what is the subtext of what it’s saying, as it resonates with me,” Ross said.
Ross then went on to describe how she interpreted the ending and portrayed Katherine’s character arc.
“I believe the idea was to tame Katherine, and in my choice of playing her, I believed that she still resisted in the end,” Ross said.
“Petruchio may or may not have realized if he won the battle at the reception, but for me I decided I did.”
Graphic by Shayla Kerr // The Louisville Cardinal