Stuff that Happens
Stuff about the induction
(another word for introduction)
- A Lord finds a drunken tinker, Christopher Sly, asleep in the street. The Lord decides to play a trick on Sly by telling him that he has had amnesia for 15 years and is really a Lord. Sly awakens to his new identity. Traveling players arrive to present an Italian play for the pretend Lord Christopher Sly. The play is a “pleasant comedy” set in Italy. The story is about the taming of a shrew.
stuff that happens in the pleasant comedy
- Lucentio, with his servant Tranio, arrives in Padua to study.
- Baptista, a merchant from Padua, has two daughters eligible for marriage: Kate, “of devilish spirit,” and Bianca, “sacred and sweet.” Baptista decrees that no one can marry Bianca until 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 (who is now disguised as a Latin teacher).
- Petruchio arrives in Padua to find a rich wife. Hearing of the shrewish Kate and her generous dowry, Petruchio vows to marry her.
- Petruchio, Gremio, and Tranio (pretending to be Lucentio) present themselves at Baptista’s house.
- Petruchio meets Kate. After a confrontational 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 to “tame her.”
- Meanwhile, Tranio (disguised as Lucentio) outbids Gremio for Bianca’s hand in marriage. The real Lucentio (disguised as a Latin teacher) wins Bianca’s love. Tranio finds an old man to impersonate Lucentio’s father, Vincentio. This imposter meets with Bianca’s father and pretending to be Lucentio’s father he consents to the marriage of Lucentio and Bianca.
- Everyone’s best laid plans fall apart. The real Vincentio then shows up.
- Chaos, weddings, and final realizations ensue.
Notes from the Directors
“it is a kind of history”
The notion of taming a shrew, of taming an unruly woman by using rude behavior, starvation, and sleep depravation is offensive (even when done “under the name of perfect love”). Yet Shakespeare’s Taming of the Shrew remains one of his more popular plays.
The Taming of the Shrew was first published in 1623 in the First Folio collection of Shakespeare’s plays. The story of The Taming of the Shrew is a play within a play. More accurately it is a play introduced by a very short story or jest. The drunken Christopher Sly is tricked into believing that he is really a wealthy English Lord who has been out of his mind for 15 years. It is a trick the drunkard accepts since being a Lord means good food, drink, servants, a wife, and the pleasure of watching the visiting players present a comedy.
Many productions cut the Sly story as unnecessary and proceed immediately with the shrew story. After all, once the jest is set up the Christopher Sly story disappears fairly quickly. In a 1594 version of a play entitled The Taming of a Shrew (an anonymous script not credited to Shakespeare) the Christopher Sly story is the epilogue to the play as well as the prologue. The drunkard Sly is returned to his original state of poverty with a new perspective. He says, “I have had the bravest dream tonight that ever thou heardest in all thy life…I know now how to tame a shrew.”
For whatever reason, Shakespeare uses the Sly story only as an Induction or prologue and not as the epilogue.
Perhaps this Sly story was a practical way to quiet the audience before the “real” play started. Perhaps the Sly story was a reminder to the audience of the magic of theatre. Maybe Shakespeare meant to introduce the idea that people will change when the rewards are sufficient. Maybe it is all of these things. In any case, the Induction very clearly sets a theatrical tone and tells us how we should view the play to follow.
Your honour’s players, hearing our amendment,
Are come to play a pleasant comedy,
For so your doctors hold it very meet,
Seeing too much sadness hath congealed your blood,
And melancholy is the nurse of frenzy.
Therefore they thought it good you hear a play
And frame your mind to mirth and merriment,
Which bars a thousand harms, and lengthens life.
…Is not a comonty (comedy) a Christmas gambold or a tumbling-trick?
No, my good lord, it is more pleasing stuff.
What, household stuff?
It is a kind of history.
Well, we’ll see…let the world slip, we shall ne’er be younger.
This prologue sets the stage for a humorous look into female and male relationships – “the battle between the sexes.”
We hope you “frame your mind to mirth and merriment” and enjoy our “pleasant comedy.” After all, “It is a kind of history.”
Fred nelson and colleen kelly