I had a fabulous time last week in Stratford-upon-Avon seeing Justin Audibert’s new re-gendered production of Shakespeare’s early “battle of the sexes” comedy The Taming of the Shrew (1591), set in a parallel Elizabethan universe where women are in charge.
Afterwards, I had the privilege of chairing a discussion about the play as part of the “Society and the Individual” series alongside the summer season, which also comprises Measure for Measure and As You Like It, performed by a cross-cast, gender-equal ensemble.
The event was entitled “The Taming of the Shrew: Kate & Petruchio in the age of #MeToo” and was advertised thus:
The #MeToo social media movement saw widespread reporting of sexual assault and harassment. In contrast, Elizabethan women were expected to submit to a ‘suitable’ marriage regardless of their feelings or ambitions. In our new production of The Taming of the Shrew, the genders are reversed, which allows a modern audience to question the balance of power between Petruchio and Kate, played by Claire Price (now PetruchiA) and Joseph Arkley.
For this dedicated panel discussion, I was joined by:
🚹 Justin Audibert – the production’s director and also now artistic director of London’s Unicorn Theatre
🚺 Joan Iyiola – an acclaimed actor who last year took the title role in The Duchess of Malfi at the RSC and who has also co-founded non-profit theatremaker continuing development organisation The Mono Box
🚺 Dr Emma Whipday – historian, Newcastle University lecturer in Renaissance literature, director and playwright
Please watch, share and let me know what you think.
The Taming of the Shrew continues at Stratford-upon-Avon’s RSC Royal Shakespeare Theatre until 31 August 2019 and is broadcast live to cinemas worldwide on 5 June. The production then tours until 4 April 2020, visiting Salford, Canterbury, Plymouth, Nottingham, Newcastle and Blackpool.
Production photography by Ikin Yum.