The MUW Department of Theatre and Blue Line Shakespeare presented “ The Taming of the Shrew” on April 20-22 in Cromwell.
“Taming of the Shrew” is a Shakespeare comedy about a woman named Katherine “Kate” Minola whose anger towards others has earned her the label of “shrew.” Petruchio becomes her suitor and vows to tame her from her shrewish ways. The play centers on whether he will succeed and fall in love with her.
Several alumni returned to the W to participate in the production, including Mary Wildsmith and Dustin Gibson as co-artistic directors. W alumna Casey Duke served as lighting designer, with alum Joseph Musgrove as costume designer. Lee Crouse, assistant professor of Theatre at The W, served as director and fight coordinator for the production.
“When we were looking at our season last spring for this year, we knew that Blue Line was interested in producing another show and that they had some funds from donations, and so we reached out to our co-directors and asked them if they would like to produce another show for this year,” said Crouse.
Dr. Nora Corrigan, an associate professor of English, and Dr. Bridget Pieschel, chair of the Department of Languages, Literature and Philosophy, helped write the script.
This production differs from other interpretations of “Taming of the Shrew.” For example, Katherine’s closing monologue was rewritten in the hopes of providing a more feminist take on the character’s behavior.
“There is a very historically problematic monologue soliloquy that Katherine has at the end of the show and in it, she seems to be saying that women should subject themselves to their husbands,” said Crouse. “We wanted to make sure that we made clear that Katherine was reacting
to how she had been treated by the males in her life and that her sister had been favored over
her and that her behavior was created by the environment.”
The cast included guest artists Ty Fanning and Torey Byrne in the lead roles. Byrne, known for her work in “August: Osage County” and “Rudderless,” described Kate as a hero of sorts.
“I think she’s a hero because she’s an individual in a world that did not allow people to be individuals,” said Byrne. “But on the opposite end of that spectrum, she doesn’t get anything for anyone, and that’s not heroic.”
Byrne also noted a lesson to be learned within this depiction of the character.
“Ultimately, it teaches Kate that what people say about you is just words. You can choose to be the person that you want to be,” said Byrnes.
Overall, Crouse was pleased with the production.
“One of the purposes of theatre is to teach and entertain, and I think this play does an excellent job of both,” said Crouse.
The W theatre department will be working with students of the Creative Writing M.F.A. program for stage readings in the Spring 2018 semester. There will also be a musical revue to celebrate the retiring of W professor and former department chair William “Peppy” Biddy for Homecoming 2018.