Session Four: Week 22


Tonight found us exploring Act IV Scene V, in which Katharina and Petruchio come to an understanding on the way to Baptista’s house. We began to get the humor in the scene just from its first walk through, and we decided to hone in on more details of what’s going on, beginning with movement.

I asked Petruchio to try stopping when he verbally “puts his foot down” about Katharina needing to agree with whatever he says, no matter how ridiculous, and to make her come to him. This was beginning to work, although our Katharina has a tendency to move very quickly that we needed to find a way to alleviate – the scene was not doing what we wanted it to do yet. The lines here are:


Forward, I pray, since we have come so far,

And be it moon, or sun, or what you please:

An if you please to call it a rush-candle,

Henceforth I vow it shall be so for me.



I say it is the moon.



I know it is the moon.



Nay, then you lie: it is the blessèd sun.



Then, God be bless'd, it is the blessèd sun:

But sun it is not, when you say it is not;

And the moon changes even as your mind.

What you will have it named, even that it is;

And so it shall be so for Katharina.


Since both of these women have been committed to the idea that Kate and Petruchio truly love each other and are not awful people, and since we all realized that this might be the most important scene in the play because it’s where they can establish this very firmly, I asked them to try this scene as if the lines were wedding vows – as if this were the real wedding, as opposed to the one in which Petruchio acted out.

This approach proved to be one that the entire ensemble loved. “I like it because Kate has a choice,” said one woman. “It’s the real-est acting there’s been in this group yet,” said another. What this comes down to is that in order to tell this story honestly in the way that they’ve interpreted it, Petruchio and Kate needed to make themselves very vulnerable here. Even with a stand-in Petruchio (the woman playing the role had to go to another group midway through ours), this is paying off.

The ensemble worked together beautifully to stage the rest of the scene, discussing ideas, objectives, obstacles, and the overall effect they want to get out of the interaction with Vincentio. When one woman had an idea for staging that seemed too difficult to some of us, the women in the scene tried it anyway to see if it would work. The majority thought it really didn’t after all, but the whole situation was handled with such respect that it didn’t become a conflict.

It was a really productive night, and we all left feeling good about the work that was done. Those sessions are the ones that help us get through the more challenging ones.


Although we were missing our Katharina and Hortensio, we decided to ride our momentum from the other night and plug in our Petruchio and Vincentio (who had had to leave early) to Act IV Scene iii.

Our first challenge was in repeating the blocking we had come up with the other night, but we found that when we focused on the characters’ objectives rather than the exact staging, it happened organically. That was a relief! We worked through the interaction with Vincentio and determined that it is a game that Kate and Petruchio are playing now that they have come to an understanding – their relationship has changed, and so has everything else for them.

After we ran through the scene with our new understanding of it, one woman had an epiphany: “I don’t think the taming of the shrew is a bad thing,” she said, “It’s about calming down and working as a team.” She explained that there is give and take in any relationship, and that is now what she sees in Kate and Petruchio rather than the breaking of a woman’s spirit. We are all inclined to agree with her.

We began reading Act V Scene I and looking to clarify anything that is confusing, but we decided not to put it on its feet because we were missing too many people who are in the scene.

We set a goal to read through the entire play in order as a group by the end of February and see where the holes are – which scenes haven’t been staged or have been recast since we staged them – and a nice byproduct of this will be that our new members will be nicely caught up. We did this last year and liked the way it worked, although we weren’t ready to do it until March or April last year. Even when we feel like we’re spinning our wheels, we have to remind ourselves that it’s part of the process, and we still have plenty of time left to accomplish our goals.

Session Four: Week 20


We continued with the work that the group had done last week on Act IV Scene ii. We began by clarifying each person’s objectives – what does everyone want in this scene? At that point, one woman suggested that we work our way through the scene in contemporary English, since it seemed like there was some confusion about what the lines meant. I invited her to lead the exercise, and she did a great job helping people through it and stopping them when things needed to be clarified; they actually were pretty on top of stopping for clarification themselves in most cases.

After working on this scene for quite a bit (and it gained quite a bit of clarity and strength!), we began work on the final scene of the play, which is going to need a lot of attention. We read through it somewhat on its feet, although, since it takes place at a banquet, people mostly stayed seated. We discussed the need to be very intentional about the seating arrangement and decided to try several different things as we move forward.

There is still some contention about the meaning of Katharina’s final monologue, and that is to be expected as there is ongoing debate about that piece in all sorts of circles where Shakespeare is debated! We may never all agree on what’s going on here – is Kate truly “tamed” or is she being sarcastic? Is she just trying to win a bet? It’s going to take some exploration, as well as a willingness on the ensemble’s part to trust the woman playing Kate, in the end, to go with her gut on what feels best to her.


Written by Lauren

On Thursday we started out talking about costumes, the set, and some props. One woman told us that she will be stepping down from the part of Grumio since she's released the week of the performance and she needs to focus her energy on that. She's sticking with the group, she just doesn't want that extra pressure. Another woman talked about possibly stepping down from her role as Baptista so she can focus her energy on writing, which has become a very important part of her life. She did say that if no one else is interested in the role, she would keep it.

The women had really great ideas in terms of costumes. They want it to look as period as possible, but with modern comedic elements such as college type paraphernalia for Padua. The women had some great ideas regarding their own characters. When it came to the set, there was a question of what we would do with the flats. One woman suggested that we do something similar to last year by painting words that relate to misogyny and patriarchy on the flats. They want to keep the show funny, but that would also show some of the underlying themes in the show. Overall, we're still brainstorming, though!

After that we did some warm ups. Since we didn't have a large attendance, we were able to concentrate on some monologue work with Katharina and Petruchio. We went through Katharina's final monologue and broke it down line by line and talked about what her intentions are for the piece. We came to some good conclusions, and she was excited to do some more work on her own time. We did the same thing with Petruchio and also had some good breakthroughs.

We then moved on to the scene where Katharina and Petruchio first meet. We broke down the scene and found some spots where there's innuendo. This gave some good context and the actors had a good time playing around with the language and the scene.

Even though we had a small group, it was very productive!

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.