The Canton of Elvegast is partnering with The Scrap Paper Shakespeare Company to produce a 90 minute version of Shakespeare’s Taming of the Shrew! We are working together to present an historically informed version of the play alongside educational resources putting the play into context of 16th century culture. Please watch the videos offered below and the reading material linked below.

Taming of the Shrew, 7-minute animation with a basic plot of the play with an excellent discussion of how misogyny is included that would be horrific by modern-day standards. Also, WHY WOULD THIS PLAY BE PRODUCED AT ALL IN MODERN DAY?! If you watch one video about Taming of the Shrew, watch this one!!!

Below are additional educational videos produced by SCAdians with expertise in Shakespeare and Taming of the Shrew:

Shakespeare’s play, Taming of the Shrew, is famous for being both fun and concerning. The misogyny of 16th century European culture is at the center of the play’s plot. The main character, Katherine (The “Shrew”), is controlled by her father and husband in ways that are cringeworthy by modern standards. Presenting this play without the context of understanding 16th century European culture can leave the audience feeling concerned and confused.

Our intention is to present this cleverly scripted play within the context of an SCA event focused on Italian 16th century culture so we can better understand Shakespeare’s play.

Plot and analysis in 12 minutes by “Course Hero”

In 16th century Europe, men controlled society. Occasionally, a woman would find a way to exert her own power, sometimes as a widow or a wife of a supportive husband. For example, Queen Elizabeth I was a rare woman because she reigned as Queen of England without a husband and held on to her own power.

Fathers made arranged marriages for their daughters. Once the daughter was married, the husband controlled her life. Women were expected to produce babies and follow instructions from their husbands or the ranking man in her family.

In the environment Shakespeare presents in Taming of the Shrew, it is perfectly normal for Katherine’s father to dictate whom she marries. He is showing generous consideration of Katherine to require her suitor, Petruchio, to gain her approval, or “love” as is said in the play, before agreeing to the marriage.

Petruchio, on the other hand, exhibits abusive levels of control over Katherine. He gaslights her, manipulates her, and denies her food and rest until she decides to work with him. This is NOT HEALTHY. If you find you are being treated like this in real life, in modern times, please know these are not healthy relationship experiences.

So, why produce this play at all? The language and characters are deep and clever. The speeches can be beautiful. The conflict between characters can be very funny. The joy of playing Shakespeare’s texts is still available in Taming of the Shrew as long as context is understood.

The Scrap Paper Shakespeare company and the Canton of Elvegast will present more educational opportunities on this topic of cultural context. At the event, classes will be held before and after the play production. Videos are being produced now with experts in Italian history. Posters and handouts on the topic will be available for reading at the event.

For reading ahead of time, try these resources:

Shakespeare’s Birthplace Trust

Royal Shakespeare Company

Folger Shakespeare Library

If you have any questions, please contact Dame Sophia the Orange (AKA: Lara Coutinho-Dean0 via orangesophie AT gmail DOT com.

Play starts at 3:00pm and runs 90 minutes! Cultural awareness classes start at 11:00am and run until the play starts.

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