Julia Stemper of Stone Soup Shakespeare, CENTER, leads NCHS English students through a workshop on Wednesday, May 2. Stone Soup Shakespeare will be in Nashville again on Thursday, May 10, when they will present “The Taming of the Shrew” in a Washington County Arts Council-sponsored performance at Memorial Park at 6 p.m.
Shakespeare’s comedy The Taming of the Shrew will be touring throughout the Midwest this spring, bringing Shakespeare in the Park to communities for free this May and early June. The tour officially opened on Friday, May 4 at Scratch Brewery (Ava) and will travel throughout Illinois, Indiana, Missouri and Wisconsin.
This production sets the story of two sisters and their journey to married life in the Wild West. An ensemble of six actors dynamically tells the story, bringing to life over twenty different characters.
Company member Eric Mercado (New York City) returns to direct for the fourth time (As You Like It 2014, The Comedy of Errors 2016, Julius Caesar 2017).
“I’m thrilled to be returning for another tour! I’m so excited for us as a company to engage with this ‘problem play’ because there is a real opportunity for us to offer a fresh perspective on Shakespeare’s text. Despite its troubling moments, Taming is outrageously funny and has so many zany and wonderful moments. We are tackling the challenges of the play head on, and I think our audiences will be eager to see how we handle the play’s infamous ending. No spoilers, but we definitely have some surprises planned! And who doesn’t love a good square dance?”
The ensemble will engage audience with song and dance as well as Shakespeare, and may even invite an audience member or two to play along.
In keeping with the spirit of the children’s story Stone Soup, from which the company takes its name, audience members are encouraged to bring non-perishable food items, which will be collected and donated, to local food banks in the tour region.
In addition to bringing food to donate we also encourage audiences to bring their own picnics to share with their friends and family while enjoying the evening of entertainment and community.
The Taming of the Shrew
Wealthy Baptista of Padua (Mark Maxwell) has two daughters: Katherina (Julia Stemper) and Bianca (Nicole Goeden).
Demure Bianca is adored by all and has suitors Hortensio (Mel McCray) and Gremio (company) vying for her hand.
Katherina, the elder sister, speaks her mind and is called a shrew because of it.
Baptista refuses to let Bianca be courted by any potential grooms, much less give her away in marriage until Katherina is married first.
Lucentio (Samie Jo Johnson) and his servant Tranio (Goeden) arrive in Padua, and instantly Lucentio sees and falls in love with Bianca.
He quickly disguises himself as a tutor so he can discreetly court her, and convinces his servant to also go undercover. Tranio dresses in Lucentio’s clothes and pleads for Bianca’s hand.
Also passing through town is Petruchio (Ross Frawley) who is on the hunt for a wife, hopefully one that comes with a healthy dowry to enhance his dwindling family funds. He runs into Hortensio and hears that Baptista is looking for a man to marry Katherina.
Petruchio decides to woo the elder sister for himself.
Quickly Petruchio woos and weds and then whisks Katherina to his home where he means to “train” her to be the perfect, docile wife.
Lucentio woos Bianca in secret. Hortensio and Gremio both give up their pursuit of Bianca when they see she has fallen for the disguised Lucentio.
This leaves Tranio free to win Bianca’s hand on Lucentio’s behalf, and another wedding is scheduled.
Lucentio’s deceitfulness causes chaos in Padua while Katherina’s willfulness almost causes her to miss her sister’s wedding. In the end though, three couples (Hortensio finds a widow (Maxwell) to marry) are blissfully met on stage.
Ensemble: Ross Frawley, Nicole Goeden*, Samie Jo Johnson, Mark Maxwell, Mel McCray, and Julia Stemper* Director: Eric Mercado*
Music Director: Molly Bunder*
Original Music: Andrew Palmer
Dramaturgy: Laila Abdo
Original Artwork: Patricia Linehan Understudy/Fellow: Hasanah Brown
*indicates Stone Soup Shakespeare Theater Company members