April 13 - June 10

If I be waspish, best beware my sting.

This hilarious comedy is much more than a “battle of the sexes”; it is also a profound look at the necessity of “play” in our lives. This production includes Shakespeare’s “Induction,” which presents the Kate and Petruchio story as a play within the play. Blending romantic comedy and outlandish farce, Shakespeare gives us a love story of psychological liberation and the mysteries of being married.

2.5 hours

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From the Director
Let me be absolutely clear about something:

I am a feminist.  This is not an admission, or an apology, or an attempt to start an argument.  It is a fact.  I believe gender does not determine someone’s worth or abilities, nor should it have anything to do with how they are treated.  I believe in equality, plain and simple.  And that is the definition of a feminist.

Shakespeare’s The Taming of the Shrew is commonly thought of as antithetical to feminist ideals.  In fact, I have been flatly told that it is a misogynist play and, as a woman, I should refuse to direct it.  My usual response is, “Have you read it?”  Because Katherine, the main female character in this play, is quite clearly a feminist.  She refuses to accept the lower status society assigns to her based on her gender.  Her tenacity, her wit, and her intelligence shine through in everything she does.  She is both inspiring and empathetic.  Katherine’s existence is all the proof I need that Shakespeare believed women are equal to men in every way. 

But this is entirely irrelevant.  Because this is not a political play.

The Taming of the Shrew is not about feminism.  It is about love.  In contemporary parlance, this is a rom-com.  Katherine’s fight to establish herself as equal to the men around her comes wrapped in the story of what happens when we fall in love.  This is a play about how we change ourselves for others, both by choice and unknowingly.  It looks at the ways in which we all perform for each other.  (The story of Katherine and Petruchio is, in fact, the longest play-within-a-play that Shakespeare wrote).  

Shakespeare uses comedy to make us look closely at how many of the compromises we make –– to fit in, to attract others, to get what we want, to find happiness –– are worth it, and how many are utterly ridiculous.  He doesn’t single out the women.  He doesn’t single out the men.  Like a true feminist, he points the finger at all of us in equal measure.

Jemma alix levy
guest director
Stuff that Happens in the Play
  • A Lord finds a drunken tinker, Christopher Sly, asleep on the ground and decides to play a trick on him.
  • The Lord tells Sly that he has had amnesia for fifteen years and that Sly is really a Lord.
  • Sly accepts his new nobility and all of the amenities that come with it.
  • Traveling players arrive to present a “pleasant comedy” set in Italy for the “Lord Christopher Sly.”
  • Lucentio and his servants, Tranio and Biondello, arrive in Padua to study.
  • Baptista, a merchant from Padua, decrees that no one can marry his “sacred and sweet” younger daughter, Bianca, until his elder daughter “of devilish spirit,” Kate, is wed.
  • Lucentio falls in love with Bianca, who is also being wooed by Hortensio and old Gremio.
  • To win Bianca, Lucentio disguises himself as a Latin teacher; Hortensio disguises himself as a music teacher.
  • Lucentio’s servant, Tranio, disguises himself as Lucentio to woo Bianca openly for his master.
  • Petruchio arrives in Padua to find a rich wife. Hearing of the shrewish Kate and her generous dowry, Petruchio vows to marry her.
  • Petruchio meets Kate, his equal at verbal sparring. After a playful exchange, Petruchio announces that they will be married on Sunday.
  • Petruchio, dressed in ridiculous clothes, arrives late on the wedding day. After the ceremony, he refuses to stay for the wedding feast. Instead, he whisks Kate off to his home in Verona.
  • Tranio (disguised as Lucentio) outbids old Gremio for Bianca’s hand in marriage while the real Lucentio (still disguised) wins Bianca’s love.
  • Tranio finds an old man to impersonate Lucentio’s father, Vincentio; this imposter meets with Baptista and consents to the marriage of Lucentio and Bianca.
  • The real Vincentio shows up.
  • Chaos, perfect parings, and wagers ensue.

Blackfriars Playhouse

10 S Market St Staunton, VA 24401