Bard on the Beach
What: Bard on the Beach
Where: Vanier Park, Vancouver, BC
WHEN: June 5-Sept. 21
Cost: Tickets start at $26
Wednesday, June 5, 2019
Contrary to popular belief, The Taming of the Shrew isn’t a romantic comedy.
The fact that its protagonist, the outspoken and independent Kate, is supposedly “tamed” by her husband Petruchio causes some to see William Shakespeare’s sometimes-controversial play as an anti-romantic comedy (and even a tragedy).
But when Bard on the Beach embarks on its 30th season this week at its scenic locale at Vancouver, BC’s Vanier Park, it will be with a refreshing interpretation of the classic work.
Returning to the Wild West theme that first filled seats when The Taming of the Shrew last graced the stage in 2007, this go-round is directed by Lois Anderson, who believes the entire play centers around Kate’s journey toward identity and selfhood.
“I think it’s very important right now to tell a story of rebellion with a female protagonist,” Anderson says. “The villain in this piece is not Petruchio—he is her ally. Kate’s conflict is with a society that holds her to a certain expectation: that she will become a goodly wife and pass on a huge dowry to a man.”
Anderson has revamped Shakespeare’s original script so that some of Petruchio’s lines are spoken by Kate, but she doesn’t think the liberties she’s taken with the tale would upset the Bard too much. In fact, she believes her changes honor his original vision for the characters.
“When the playbill went up for The Taming of the Shrew in Elizabethan times, everyone would have thought they were going to see the comical tale of a marriage in the vein ‘Punch and Judy,’” Anderson says. “But Shakespeare challenged that old trope by staging a profound love story between a husband and wife. He tells a story of two kindred spirits; two soul mates who are equally matched, mentally and physically. There is no taming in this story. We’re just watching two people encounter each other, trying to comprehend each other, while they are falling in love.”
For those seeking a true romantic comedy, see the famous writer fall for his creative muse when Shakespeare in Love takes the next spot on Bard on the Beach’s lineup, followed by a version of All’s Well That Ends Well that transports viewers to an India on the cusp on independence, and ending with Coriolanus, which is described as a “no-holds-barred political drama filled with resonance for our time.”
The four plays show in repertory through Sept. 21, but it would behoove you to get tickets ASAP, as seats for the longtime festival sell quickly—and this season looks to be one for the record books.
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