Thursday, September 23, 2010

PEG Lecture 9/17/10

Today’s class, held in the Masonic building rather than the Blackfriars Playhouse, got the students up on their feet, which I think they enjoyed once they got over their nervousness. Dr. Ralph talked a bit about Taming of the Shrew to start off. Fortunately, all of the kids had seen our production. I didn’t realize that Taming has remained one of Shakespeare’s most popular plays and is today one of his biggest moneymakers. In the current production, Kate and Petruchio are very much in love, and he’s teaching her that, if she makes believe that things are a certain way (eg. the sun is the moon), she can win and have fun with it. The more interesting productions show the two of them in love, says Ralph.
The students broke into groups of two, each group having a few lines from Kate’s final monologue. Then one partner would perform it as a powerless woman and the other would perform it as powerful. I found the powerful portrayals generally more interesting. Many of the powerless ones were quiet and had no sarcasm. Kate would often look over at Petruchio (played by the silent Maxim) to check in with him, make sure he approved of what she said. Ralph said to pretend that if she got it wrong, he would beat the hell out of her afterwards. That definitely helped them seem powerless! Less hyperbolically, she looked to him for protection.
The powerful ones relied a lot on inflection and focus. One of her biggest sources of power was interaction not just with Bianca and the widow, but with women in the audience. She could use her blocking for power: sometimes she would stay still, sometimes she would draw near the audience, and sometimes she would stand behind her husband and look down at him when she was being sarcastic. And when she was out of his sight, he had no power. By the end, her power reached the level of pulling his hair while talking about being weaker and then putting her hand under his foot to push his chair over. I think everyone preferred a non-sexist interpretation of the text.
We ran out of time before we could do a similar exercise with a scene from Othello, the one where Emilia and Desdemona discuss the double standard for fidelity. I hope the other groups get to perform those scenes next week. It should be fascinating.

No comments:

Post a Comment