PNC Theatre to Stage Shakespeare's "The Taming of the Shrew"

2013-04-05T18:39:00Z PNC Theatre to Stage Shakespeare's "The Taming of the Shrew"Contributed by PNC nwitimes.com
April 05, 2013 6:39 pm  • 

WESTVILLE | PNC Theatre and the PNC Players of Purdue University North Central will present a production of William Shakespeare's "The Taming of the Shrew" at the Mainstreet Theatre in Michigan City.

The public is invited to the performances at the Mainstreet Theatre, 807 Franklin St., on opening night Saturday, April 13, at 8 p.m.; Sunday, April 14, at 3 p.m.; Friday, April 19 at 8 p.m. and Saturday, April 20 at 8 p.m.

Tickets are $10 for general admission and $5 for students presenting a valid student ID.

The production is directed by Dr. Paul Hecht, PNC associate professor of English. The cast and crew will have a talkback session with interested audience members, immediately following select performances. More information is available at http://www.pnc.edu/activities/theatre/.

The production takes a step back from the complexity of Henry IV and English history and into an apparently simpler world of slapstick and farce. Two beautiful young sisters, lots of eager (and more or less eligible suitors), a protective father - it sounds like the setup to many a bedroom comedy. The difference here is the "shrew," and it is a difference that pushes the simplicity of the comedy in complex and problematic directions.

So what's a shrew? In Shakespeare's time (400 years ago), a shrew was a woman who didn't act as women were supposed to act. In particular, it's a woman who speaks up for herself, who doesn't do exactly as her father or husband says, who asserts rights beyond those of women's limited social status. And the "taming" in this play is about putting a woman like that in her place and breaking her spirit so that she stays there.

What are the techniques of the "tamer"? Sleep deprivation and starvation, for a start, but also a psychological assault, where the woman has to accept literally anything her husband says no matter how mad.

While this doesn't sound much like a comedy, there's also love, maybe, and this is the way that the play has traditionally been made palatable. The tamer is also irresistible and the shrew, Kate, falls for him and realizes that with him she doesn't have to be the unhappy and intemperate person she was before.

But many questions remain, questions which the cast of this year's show has been wrestling with from the start, even as they enjoy what audiences have enjoyed for generations - a fast, smart gallop of a play, with plenty of disguises, servants playing their masters, masters playing servants, and everyone trying to outsmart and out "face" everyone else. Nobody dies, but the play is filled with violence and flaring tempers and it's a wonder no one does.

The audience will be seriously entertained and entertained seriously, as you take a closer look at one of the most problematic, strange, and uncomfortable of Shakespeare's bang-up comedies, where the 400 years between us seems on the one hand, profoundly alienating, unnerving, and on the other, like no time at all.

Song, dance, aggressive gender cross-casting, rock and roll, and the clash of authentic longswords ensure the PNC production takes the most entertaining, most provocative components of this play as far as possible. A cast of 19 will fill Mainstreet's intimate theater space with youthful energy.

The PNC Players are Cristina Amaro, LaPorte; Aram Arden, LaPorte; Karen Arden, LaPorte; Suzanne Bartholomew, Michigan City; Aaron Collings, LaPorte; Jason Curtis, Valparaiso; Kyle Dehning, Wheatfield; Sarah Dwight, LaPorte; Jeremy Harris, Michigan City; Shameka Harris, LaPorte; Kristina Heuck, Michigan City; Andrew Holt, Long Beach; Morgan Lynn, Michigan City; Amber Mayes, Michigan City; Cortney McIntosh, LaPorte; Maria Elena Miller, Michigan City; Alyssa Moskwa, Valparaiso; Diane Rich, LaPorte; Justin Sech, Kouts; Tara Sibo, LaCrosse; Holly Trott, LaPorte; Teresa West, LaPorte.

The crew members are Jeremy James Bugg, Westville; Denise Curtis, Valparaiso; Brittany Nowatzke, LaPorte; Sara Sech, Kouts; Charles Trott, LaPorte; Holly Trott, LaPorte; Camille Turner, Michigan City; Brett Worthington, Valparaiso.

The production will again feature music composed and performed by Chicago area composer Rob Clearfield, dance choreography by Ariane Dolan, faculty member of Chicago's Lou Conte Dance Studio and a veteran of innumerable regional and national musical theatre shows as well as "stage violence" by R&D Choreography.

Tickets may be purchased from the Mainstreet Theatre of Michigan City. More information is available at http://www.pnc.edu/engl/theatre. To reserve tickets contact the theatre at 219-874-4269 or email phecht@pnc.edu.

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