The Taming of the Shrew
Oct. 25-27 7:30 p.m., Oct. 28 2:00p.m.,
Nov. 7-8 7:30 p.m.
Directed by Simone E. Polanen ’14 Produced by Hannah R. Phillips ’15
and Gökcan Demirkazik ’14
Love, marriage, and a little bit of comedy go a long way in making Shakespeare’s “The Taming of the Shrew” an over-the-top farce. Set in Padua, Italy, the play follows the story of ambitious gold digger Petruchio as he sets out to find a wealthy heiress to marry. However, he ends up getting more than he bargained for when he is set up with the wealthy but tenacious Katherina. Most of the characters in the show are men, and during Shakespeare’s time, all shows were put on using only male actors. However, director Simone E. Polanen ’14, decided to use an all-female cast—for all the roles—with the hope of turning this gender dynamic on its head. “I think a woman’s interpretation of a male character is a lot different than a male’s interpretation, so I think that this show brings out some new and interesting takes on the play,” she says.
Polanen has decided to do a modern rendition of the classic; she kept the old-fashioned language and plot but changed the setting to post-World-War-II United States. Alice F. Berenson ’16, who plays the role of Hortensio, believes this was a great choice because it allows the play to comment on how women’s roles have changed since the time the play was written. “With women playing men, you can actually play it to the extreme,” she says. “In one scene, [Petruchio] is making lewd comments that coming from a man would be inappropriate, but coming from a woman just highlight the gender dynamics of the play and show how outdated they are.”
Throughout the entire show, the cast hopes to dispel gender stereotypes. Olivia L. Ball ’14, who plays Petruchio, sees this directorial decision as a comment on how our society deals with gender issues. “In this play, a man treats a woman pretty terribly, and the one thing we’ve tried to bring out is that women don’t treat each other that way,” she says. “It’s really a comment on how women are supposed to behave by the bending of all the gender rules.”
Overall, through its unconventional choices and over-the-top comedic approach, HRDC’s “The Taming of the Shrew” promises to be interesting and exciting for both seasoned Shakespeare veterans and those who have never even heard of the play.
—Alexander J. Iascone