Henley Street’s 1930′s Redux of Taming of the Shrew Ignites Battle of the Sexes
The Henley Street Theatre and Richmond Shakespeare will be bringing their original take on The Taming of the Shrew, a Shakespearean comedy, to Richmond audiences starting Nov. 7 at the Steward School.
Directed by Jan Powell, the Richmond version of this classic received its inspiration from a touring exhibit that will be at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts called ‘Hollywood Costume’. The play which was initially written as a play within a play will be presented as a 1930’s Hollywood film shoot so audience will see the actors working on shooting a film of The Taming of the Shrew.
“I love this play,” Powell said. “The show itself is fascinating to me because it’s about the war of the sexes.”
Powell, who has been involved in theatre most of her life said that she hopes the audience will get a lot of laughs from the play.
“It’s a really fun and hilarious experience of being on the set of a 1930’s comedy and having the experience of seeing how that was done, getting to see the actors on camera and off camera, I think it’s a fresh way to see a play that is beloved,” Powell said. “Taming of the Shrew is one of Shakespeare’s most popular comedies. It’s a framework through which to really enjoy this comedy in a way that I think is true to what Shakespeare wrote and gives us a new kind of visual setting in which to enjoy the story. It’s laughter, it’s a romance, it’s thought provoking but most of all it’s fun.”
Liz Blake White and Matt Hackman star in the Shakespearean romantic-comedy about taming a “shrew” of a woman and developing a loving relationship.
White and Powell expressed their concerns on how some interpret this play as a chauvinistic piece about dominating men and gender roles but say that neither one of them understand it that way and hope this production makes people understand Shakespeare as they do- an unbelievable writer with incredible passion and understanding of people.
“I don’t think Shakespeare ever said anything, I think he gave the words to his characters,” Powell said.
White plays Kate, a profoundly unhappy woman whose father tries to marry her off, a role White said she has hoped to play since the character is one of the feistiest roles written by Shakespeare.
“I’ve wanted to play Kate forever,” White said. “He [Shakespeare] writes incredible women. He understands women really better than any old dude in the 16th century should have. I really hope that people can see there’s really an even balance of power and we worked really hard on maintaining that.”
The element of setting the play, 1930’s Hollywood, added a layer of preparation to the cast by making them not only study the words of Shakespeare but learn and perform it through a completely different era.
Hackman, who plays Petruchio, a man trying to court Kate, says he has been hoping to play this role since he read the play in high school.
“I think my favorite thing is that it’s a wonderful comedy but yet it’s a beautiful love story at the same time,” Hackman said. “And I don’t think either the comedy or the love story gets sacrificed for the other.”
“I’m hoping that the audience enjoys the show for what it is,” Hackman said. “And I really hope that they really enjoy the take that we have had on it.”
Taming of the Shrew will run from Nov. 7-16 at the Steward School and tickets can be purchased by calling the Henley Street Theatre or visiting their website.
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