Shakespeare’s comedy about a shrewish woman who is mad, angry and misunderstood – and how she is transformed – will be presented Friday and Saturday [APRIL 15-16] at East Central University.
“The Taming of the Shrew” will begin at 7:30 p.m. in the Ataloa Theatre in the Hallie Brown Ford Fine Arts Center, directed by Dr. Richard Groetzinger, director of theatre and assistant professor of communication.
“It’s a farce,” Groetzinger said. “There’s lots of great comedy and mistaken identities.”
The show will use Elizabethan costumes and follow Elizabethan manners, but actors will use a mixture of Oklahoma, New York and Spanish accents.
“Experts tell us that the Elizabethan accent is more like present-day American accents than present day English accents,” Groetzinger said. “American accents actually increase the intelligibility of Shakespeare’s words.”
Katharina, the shrew, played by Jessica Pruitt of Broken Bow, is sharp-tongued and hostile to any man who shows an interest in her. Her beautiful younger sister, Bianca, has three suitors, but their wealthy mother will not allow anyone to court Bianca until Katharina is married. But who would want to do that?
Along comes Petruchio, played by Keifer Truett of Ada, a brash, quick-witted gentleman from Verona who has “come to wive it wealthily in Padua; If wealthily, then happily in Padua.” And if Katharina is insulting, irksome and brawling, it’s no problem – if she has money.
Petruchio meets Kate, as he calls her, and during a duel of words tells her that her mother has consented to their marriage. For some reason, she does not object. After the wedding, however, he makes her leave for his house before the wedding feast. She is now his property, he says.
Petruchio always finds something wrong with his food or the bedding, so she is not allowed to eat or sleep. He continues taming her for several days while “killing with kindness” to curb her headstrong manner.
When they return to Padua, everyone is shocked to see how Katharina behaves. Meanwhile, Bianca has married Lucentio, and one of her suitors has married a widow. The three husbands have a contest to see whose wife is the most obedient.
Groetzinger said the play has developed an anti-feminist reputation.
“Shakespeare’s approach is not politically correct by today’s standards,” he said.
Yet Shakespeare was very positive on his female characters and lukewarm on his male characters, the director explained. So it would be out of character for him to write a play about a contentious woman, especially when he knew multitudes would see this as a bad woman being tamed by a man.
“There are clues to understanding that it was a mutual coming together of a woman and a man to forge a mutual relationship, if you know where to look for the clues,” Groetzinger said.
“In our version there is an attraction between the two. Petruchio helps her understand that all men are not like her father, or Bianca’s suitors, that there are men who can like her if she’s willing to show herself as she really is. Everything he does is in terms of love.
“You could wonder if he is taming her, or if she is taming him,” Groetzinger said.
General admission tickets are $5 for adults and $4 for senior citizens and non-ECU students. ECU students, faculty and staff will be admitted free with valid IDs. Tickets will be available at the box office each night of the show. Advance tickets can be reserved by calling 580-559-5600. ECU alumni will receive a $1 discount.
Jessica Pruitt also portrayed the mother in Neil Simon’s “Fools” in October and Comdr. Wilma Harbison in “South Pacific” in February. Keifer Truett was the school teacher in “Fools” and Seabee Luther Billis in “South Pacific.”
Also cast are Lisa Nelson of Ada as Bianca; her suitors Nick Geisler of Little Axe as Lucentio, Micheal Rowley of Ardmore as Gremio and Jeff Bush of Bowlegs as Hortensio; and Kimberly Wren of Ada as Katharina’s and Bianca’s mother, Baptista.
Servants are Brittany Trail of Ada, Tranio; Jacob Stevens of McAlester, Biondello; and Jared Scofield of Stratford, Grumio. Kaleb Gordon of Seminole is Vincentio, Lucentio’s father.
The play is actually a play within a play. It begins with an introductory segment about an elaborate practical joke played by a lord on a drunken tinker. Those characters then watch a play about Katherina and Petruchio that makes up the main action.
Actors in that segment, who also have roles in the main story, are Robert Gallagos, Ada, as Christopher Sly; Lacee Elliott, Davis, a hostess; Heath Holt, Ada, the lord; and huntsmen Chad Woods, Stratford; Derek Reed, Pauls Valley; and Tony Garringer, Ardmore. Servants are Pamela Chapman, West Palm Beach, Fla.; and Deidre Marris, Ardmore.