Kate Holland – Director
I have to say, this process of rehearsing this play is a gradual loosening of defenses for me. When Sarah first asked me to direct Taming of the Shrew, I started crying — I begged her to choose any other play. I couldn’t see through my own discomfort with the gender issues raised by the play and my own past experiences in relationships in which I was not an equal partner. These words sound rational and reasonable but the truth is that when I read the words of Katharina’s final speech, I felt scalded by them as if they were drops of acid.
I saw no way INTO the text while being true to ourselves as women. The only way forward that I could see was to direct some kind of commentary on gender, deconstructing the play, “breaking” it. The visionary Tina Packer, who comes from a place of much more experience and wisdom than myself, has a similar dislike of “Taming of the Shrew”.
Sarah was patient and brave enough to hang in there with me while I first protested and then plotted to unravel the play. She challenged me instead to trust the text, to venture into Shakespeare’s words with this amazing company of women and search for the heart of the matter.
Rather than creating a deconstructed “Shrew” that shines a searchlight on power imbalances (as had been my first inclination), we are searching for the spark to light each of the characters so they glow from within, revealing their hearts and their vulnerabilities. Much cruelty and injustice in the world comes from a place of pain on the part of the perpetrator, and we can never win the war for respect and equality with weapons of rage. Only by seeking first to understand, searching for these characters from a place of compassionate curiosity, can we hope to engage meaningfully with this play and effect change in ourselves and each other with it.
Today we dove into the question of masculinity as it relates to Hortensio, his desire for Bianca, and his sense of self in relationship to the other men in the play. More on this next time, as sleep is pulling me down like an irresistible anchor.