Session Four: Week 19


Written by Dominique

We had a pretty good turnout this evening - only a couple people missing. Yet somehow it was still difficult to find a scene to work on that involved only characters of available actors. We carried on, with people volunteering to fill needed spaces.

After initial frustration at not being able to just "go in order" as originally planned due to absence we forged onward - begin with Act IV Scene iii. A first run/read-thru on its feet was made. We stopped to sort out exactly what was going on in the scene - not an easy thing to do! We laughed at how complicated the comedies can be with mistaken identities and characters running on and offstage. Who exactly was being who at this point and who believed them?? We looked to the text for clues and backed it up with Spark Notes (no shame in that at all!!). Once we figured out where the deception was, the lines in the scene began to bloom, particularly for Tranio, being read by the woman who is cast as the Widow but frequently fills in for others. Once again she gave a good solid reading and really dug to figure out where the character she was reading was coming from. And once again she, with good humor, insisted that she was the Widow and the Widow only. It's becoming a kind of running gag. Other cast members remarked on the strength of her reading, but we pointed out that the whole play was leading to the entrance of the Widow at this point, so she was wise to stick with that.

The other aspect of the scene to be broached was the "love making" of Bianca and Lucentio. We talked about how to approach it, what would be appropriate for play and audience, what kinds of things could be broad enough to read for audience. We talked about while in this play many of the jokes are accessible it is the physical comedy that really brings the humor to light for a modern audience so we continue looking for those moments wherever possible. Even to the point of suggesting that although Gremio doesn't join the scene's dialogue until much much later her presence on stage could leave open some opportunities for fun…

Kate and Petruchio also gave us a taste of work they had done on Act II sc 1.  They are both such good actors it was fun to see them dig in to the verbal jousting. We talked about ways to break up the "jests", different approaches Petruchio might take, who really has the power in the scene and when. They were also encouraged to use the entire stage, to really physicalize the language to help bring the jokes to life for the audience. There should be no problem in that! The show is already off to a rollicking start.


Written by Lauren

Today was pretty low-key. We started with the ring and some stretches and vocal warm-ups. One woman taught us a warm up (more of a game). We used it instead of tongue twisters and everyone seemed to like it! You start with the letter A and tell everyone your name, your husband's name, where you live and where you work and all starting with that letter (ex: my name is Alice, my husband's name is Albert, we live in Alberta and we sell artichokes). You go around the circle with a different letter each time.

After that we worked Act 4 Scene 1, which has already been blocked, but given the women we had available, that seemed like the best scene to do. It ended up being fine since they said needed a refresher of the scene. Our Grumio was feeling pretty down today but didn't really get into it. She still worked through the scene twice, but was definitely done after that. The ladies wanted to play some improv games after that. One woman was pretty outspoken about how she didn't understand the point of the games. I explained how they could be helpful, and then she got really into it. We played a couple rounds of Party Quirks, which they were all really into. I had a hard time getting the ladies to be physical when we ran the scene, so I thought that game would help them act silly and over the top, and it worked.

The same woman who was initially against playing games also mentioned that she would like to challenge herself and take on the role of Biondello since it's available. I took both of these things as good signs and was glad that she's willing to challenge herself and try new things.

Session Four: Week 17

Today began with a “presentation” of the Katharina/Bianca/Baptista scene at the top of Act II Scene I. Two of the three actors were off book, and they had done some brainstorming about how the scene could work on its feet. Their instincts toward physical comedy and relationships made for a REALLY funny scene, and it sparked excitement in the rest of the ensemble, who were very vocal about throwing out suggestions for how to go even farther with it. We were so enthusiastic, in fact, that we decided to veer away from our “rehearsal schedule” (which is tentative at best, anyway) in order to spend more time on it. It was great as a facilitator to be able to take a back seat to the rest of the ensemble, as one of our goals is for exactly that to happen as often as possible. We then continued our work on the scene as we moved forward. The next entrance presents a challenge, and we explored various ways of doing it in order to find what works. Ideas include everyone entering at once from the same place, staggering entrances from that one place, or having each “team” come in from a different place in the theatre. We’re not sure yet what works best and will have to keep exploring.

Another challenge we discussed is that of needing to be on stage in a scene without any lines. I suggested that each person focus on her character’s objective and find “something to do” from there – whether it’s eavesdropping, staying very close, keeping a distance, giving the space the once-over, having a side conversation – and it seemed to lessen their discomfort a bit. We’ll have to keep going with that as well.

After this, we worked on Act IV Scene III. There are several ways in which to interpret this scene, and we explored them – do Kate and Grumio enter together, or is he already on stage? Is she imperious or pitiful? We found that our favorite entrance was when Grumio was already on stage, cleaning with his back turned, and Kate entered silently, blowing her cover by trying to get the last crumbs out of a bag of chips. This provided added motivation for Grumio’s first line (No, no!) and gave Kate an immediate, physical activity. We also found that we believed the scene more and Grumio had an easier time changing his mind about giving Kate food when she invoked empathy rather than servitude.

We spent some time, then, brainstorming about costumes, props, and set. We’ve landed on setting our play in Elizabethan times but having lots of modern flourishes, like the bag of chips. Several of the women have specific costume ideas for their characters, and others are still thinking. We’ll continue to discuss and hope to nail everything down within the next month or so.

Session Four: Week 7


After our warm up today, the group decided to move right into Act I Scene ii and make sure we really got it. We discussed the need for a “rehearsal schedule” moving forward, as our deadline to cast the play in December is getting closer, and we have a lot of work to do to make sure we understand the story and characters. We broke down the scene bit by bit together, and then we put it on its feet.

Almost immediately, one of the women, who is newer to the group, leaned over to me. “Why is she (the woman playing Petruchio) pointing at the door? Grumio can’t be confused if she’s being so obvious about it.” I stopped the action so that this woman could give that very constructive note and encouraged everyone to do the same if they had feedback. More people entered the scene, and this same woman whispered to me again, “It don’t look right.” I asked her what would make it look better, and she responded, “It just don’t look like a conversation. They shouldn’t stand like that.”

“Do you see in your head how they should be standing?” I asked. She nodded. I called another hold and encouraged her to go ahead and direct the scene, which she did. This was a really exciting moment, as this woman spends a good deal of time talking herself down (I can’t read, I shouldn’t be on stage, etc.), but here we seem to have stumbled upon a strength – and that is being able to identify how actors’ physicality affects our ability to tell this story. She’s got director’s instincts (not to mention the fact that she CAN read and is great on stage!). The group encouraged her to continue giving direction in a constructive manner, as not everyone has this ability. I’m hopeful that she will gain confidence in more areas than just this, as she’s now feeling empowered to give feedback from this perspective and knows that it will be appreciated and honored.

Another participant showed a great affinity for Grumio, as she consistently and hilariously “threw shade” throughout the scene after her “ear wringing” from Petruchio. “I LIKE this guy,” she laughed. We were all thrilled to see her connect in that way.

We seem to have a good grip on Act I Scene ii now and will move forward now, hopefully efficiently enough to meet the casting deadline we set for ourselves.



We began work today on Act II Scene I. We read it through without stopping, then went back to break down and analyze it. The women have some great insight into the characters already.

The first thing the group wanted to discuss was Petruchio’s and Kate’s instant chemistry. They interpret Kate as being very intelligent, and feeling that finally she’s met someone who can keep up with her. “Some people who are incredibly intelligent have no social skills,” said one woman. In terms of their behavior, one woman said, “Maybe they’re both shrews that need taming.” They see Petruchio as being potentially just as rough as Kate in terms of his behavior. One woman introduced the idea that Kate’s shrewish behavior is a defense mechanism to protect herself because she’s so intelligent. Likewise, several of the women believe that, on one hand, Kate behaves the way she does to protect Bianca from marrying the wrong man, and, on the other hand, that she may be resentful of her little sister getting more romantic interest than her. One woman talked about her discomfort knowing she was being pitied by relatives at her younger sister’s wedding.

At this point, many of the women had left because of mandatory scheduling conflicts, and those of us who were still there decided to explore the beginning of the scene with Kate, Bianca, and Baptista, leaving the meat of the scene to explore with a larger number of people. This dynamic is proving to be one to which many of us can relate. Some of the women feel that the “abuse” from Kate to Bianca is playful, while others do not. We all feel that Baptista is a “big powerful presence” that changes that dynamic when he enters. But, as one woman said, “He loves the crap out of Kate.”

We began a brief exploration of the scene between Petruchio and Kate, which we determined needs a lot of movement. We’re all looking forward to exploring it more!