Thursday, April 25, 2013

The Taming of the Shrew

iTunes link doesn't seem to be working at the moment, but the episode is still available through this link. (Is there anyone out there who runs a server that could host these episodes? Our current solution may not be working.)

I think that Taming of the Shrew is changed by our modern perception of gender more than any other Shakespeare play.  When Petruchio says that his wife is his property, that seems shocking to us, but was a defensible position at the time.

We came down pretty hard against Taming on its anti-feminst position. We admit that you can play it in another way, but the text doesn't provide for a sarcastic interpretation.

Like I said in the episode, if you or someone you know needs a position filled, I'm available to take on a new job. Just send an email to bardjob at

Make sure to vote on Hamlet or Coriolanus!


  1. Guys - another great episode - sounds like it was colored WAY too much by the 'monstrous' adaption you saw (which I shall think of forevermore as 'the butt version') - that's one of the things about live theater, is how a director's choices can reshape the entire play for good or ill.

    The most comedic "Shrew" I would recommend is the Broadway Theatre Archive DVD starring Fredi Olster and Marc Singer:

    a live performance, which plays up a "high concept" commedia dell'arte angle, VERY stylized, and the funniest (sometimes crudest) version I've seen (and I enjoy the BBC version as well with John Cleese, who plays it in that dry "British" way as only he can), but is hampered by the awful video production style of the BBC in the '60s/70s.

    You spent a lot of time discussing the gender politics of this piece, and it sounds like you're not entirely sure what Shakespeare's own attitudes were toward woman; I'm not sure it ultimately matters - new firestorms are being created today over this exact issue (see the recent quotes by Gabrielle Reece or Drew Barrymore about the roles of women to prove my point) - seen in that context, "Shrew" is a very contemporary piece of theater. You didn't mention that Anne Hathaway is also planning a modern-day movie version of "Shrew" as well - we'll see what that turns out to be.

    Mmmm... Hamlet or Coriolanus... such different pieces; Hamlet is a character of wild depth, while Coriolanus is a two-dimensional character (at best). I was shocked to discover that you hadn't tackled Hamlet before - thought you had... but it's aces either way. I'll tune in regardless!

  2. Oh, and I'm not sure I think your "guest reader" is any more effective than you two reading the lines... sure, he's British and all, but he's not "acting" the part, he's just "intoning" the lines (granted, in his wonderful, English accent), but he reminds me more of a "Guilgud" than a "Branaugh" - sort of the 'old fashioned' drama method. I prefer my Shakespeare more fiery and free-form, not measured and stately.

  3. I recently took a college class on Shakespeare and we covered this play. The teacher had a different approach to the Pretrucio/Kate relationship which I may or may not agree with, but still like it better anyway. His view was that Petrucio and Kate were able to start working together, rather than just Petrcio dominating Kate. He pointed to a moment in the Sun/Moon scene where Kate actually gets the better of Petrucio in the banter. When you look at the relationship as more of a partnership, it makes the ending seem more like an inside joke. Since there's money on the line, Kate's monologue could be considered neither sincere nor sarcastic, but more like acting. An interesting theory which fits better with Shakespeare's other strong female characters.

  4. Just wanted to let you know that I find your show really great and appreciate not only the episodes about particular plays but also about Shakespeare's "environement." Keep it up!

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  6. I hate to admit but I have JUST discovered podcasts! You guys are great and "if you'd be the sources of podcasts, give me excess of it!" I am so much looking forward to listening to all of the back issues! At the same time I worry that you guys are slowing up. Please don't stress me out like this. Besides the obvious of covering all of the plays, I'd be interested in your take on "Shakespeare as opera" -- yeah, might not be a big draw -- but it should be. Have you ever listened to Britten's Midsummer? It is hilarious and beautiful and poetic and...

    Another idea (somewhat related, but marginally) are the poems. I've never been able to get into them and maybe you can help me. Confession: not a big sonnet reader either. Back to Ben Britten I love his Rape of Lucretia opera (funny to write that, but you understand) ..... I need some help on appreciating the poems.

    Then there is Shakespeare in Film topic. The good, the bad, and the ugly.

    And why the "Problem Plays" are problems.

    BTW, it's just funny posting as "Anonymous" not that I want to be anonymous, and certainly not the movie thereof.

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  8. Good take on this play, it really mirrors my ELIZABETH TAYLOR take on it, though when groups around here decide to put it ELIZABETH TAYLOR on, I've expressed my dislike to some surprise.

    Sorry, did something get dubbed in there? You shouldn't notice.