Friday, May 23, 2003
CCHS production of Shakespeare's The Taming of the Shrew
William Shakespeare could never have anticipated that one day the character of Katherine in his comedy The Taming of the Shrew would be portrayed as a "Goth," wearing shiny black vinyl pants and bright blue lipstick. He could not have foreseen that his Petruchio would attempt to emulate an upscale CEO or that his Bianca would come across as a "suburban Barbie." Yet somehow it's easy to believe that Shakespeare would have approved of this modern interpretation, co-directed by teachers Andrew Sapp and Margot Law and presented on the stage of the Little Theatre at Concord-Carlisle High School last weekend.
"One reason it was set in the present is because getting beyond the language for adolescents · or anyone in contemporary society · can be a challenge," says Sapp. Dressing the characters in recognizable clothing helped portray their personalities and "does some of the work of the text."
"It was hard to decipher the language at first," says sophomore Amy Chateauneuf, a Carlisle resident who played the role of a servant in the production. "But then we learned how funny Shakespeare can be. I hope we were able to interpret that to the audience."
The Taming of the Shrew tells the story of Baptista, a wealthy merchant of Padua, Italy (although originally written as a part for a man, it was deftly transformed into a woman's part, played by junior Rebecca Lawrence), who has two daughters: the lovely, sought-after Bianca (senior Aja Munsell), and the shrewish Katherine (junior Maya Murphy). When Baptista declares that Bianca will not marry until her older sister has been married off, her suitors devise a number of schemes to win her and convince a visiting friend, Petruchio of Verona (senior Kailin Clark), to woo Katherine and win her large dowry. A marriage is arranged, and Petruchio sets out to tame Katherine.
"It's an ironic title, because Kate is never actually tamed," says Sapp. "Instead of being tamed, she evolves into a complex character, as does Petruchio." While it appears that Katherine has become meek and submissive by the play's end, instead the characters have achieved mutual trust and respect, along with a "real, true, profound love. She can put herself in a subservient position, knowing that he won't take advantage of her," says Sapp.
This concept was also conveyed by the fascinating and simple use of sets. Covering the walls of both stage and the theater were copies of artwork done by graphic artist M.C. Escher. "We wanted a set that would portray the fact that things aren't what they seem," says Sapp. Escher's use of spatial illusions, shadows and perspective require a second look to absorb and understand · as does The Taming of the Shrew.
Carlisle students involved in The Taming of the Shrew were: Jennie Siegel (a Lady) , Nicolle Armistead (a servant), Amy Chateauneuf (a servant), Mike Chateauneuf (Biondello), Patrick Offenheiser (Vincentio), Jacquie O'Kelly (Curtis), Ariel Morrison (Bianca's servant), Michael Johnson (stage manager, set construction and design) and Cait Phillips (set construction and design).
© 2003 The Carlisle Mosquito