Taming of the Shrew
8 May – 5 June 2021
Bille Brown Theatre, South Brisbane
Two sisters. One wants to marry, one doesn’t. What could possibly go wrong?
Queensland Theatre will transplant Shakespeare’s The Taming of the Shrew to an Italian silent film set in their upcoming season. Suitors are lining up to woo movie mogul Baptista’s enchanting film star daughter, Bianca, but Bianca can’t marry until her elder sister Katharina is wed. Bold and fierce, Kate is not interested in marriage despite the many men who conspire to marry her off in order to woo her sister. Enter Petruchio — Navy captain, in need of a wife. The stage is set for a powerful clash of wills.
“In the early days of film, women were very much the stars, but fundamental to their stardom was a silencing of their voices,” says director Damien Ryan. “It’s a paradoxical setting. The early 20th century was really a turning point, with the rise of the aviatrix, of suffragettes, and with the advent of talkies, a woman’s voice on celluloid — but only after she’s been tucked and squished, then smeared with make-up, to look the part of feminine beauty on camera. It’s within that illusion of power, within a world of playfulness and role playing, that we are setting Taming of the Shrew and I hope to have an enormous amount of fun!”
Ryan hopes that the question in the hearts of audiences after the play will be: what would you do for love? Not just to be loved, but to give love?
“I want the experience in the Bille Brown Theatre to be of a really extraordinary love story — a messy, complex, at times disagreeable, but very funny, very moving, strangely satisfying love story. I think every successful relationship makes sense to the people who are in it. Other people’s rules and judgements don’t apply. It’s indefinable to anyone on the outside, and that holds true for Katharina and Petruchio,” he suggests.
Artistic Director Lee Lewis said, “I know Taming of the Shrew is complicated. Damien has said time and time again that Shakespeare wrote it to be a deliberately divisive play. But just because it’s problematic to navigate, does that mean we should put it to the back of the bookshelf? Artists should be brave enough to confront and own heritage works. In the right hands, with the right cast, this is a glorious play and I am eager to share Damien’s inspired, nuanced and downright hilarious interpretation of this love story with Queensland Theatre audiences. In this time when international travel remains impossible, Queensland Theatre is ready to sweep audiences away to Italy, if only for a night!”
Brisbane’s Anna McGahan will play the role of Kate, matching wits against Nicholas Brown in his Queensland Theatre debut as Petruchio. Also making their debut on the Bille Brown stage will be Patrick Jhanur, John McNeill, Wendy Mocke, David Soncin and Claudia Ware, alongside familiar faces Bryan Probets, Barbara Lowing, Ellen Bailey and Leon Cain.