I spent the last month working on a production of Taming of the Shrew with one of the local community theaters. Under normal circumstances, tackling Shakespeare is a difficult process, but we had less than four weeks to become familiar with the play and get our lines and direction down. This made it nearly impossible to get the show running smoothly before opening night. But, as we always do, we pulled together a troop of newbies, casuals and veterans to make it work.
Taming of the Shrew tells the tale of the courtship between Petruchio, who comes to town hoping to marry a wealthy woman, and Katherine, a scolding, headstrong shrew. Petruchio uses psychological torments to tame Katherine while a sub-plot develops between Katherine's sister, Bianca and the numerous suitors using devious means to woo Bianca. The whole thing is introduced via a framing device where a mischievous nobleman tricks a drunkard into believing that he is a lord and that his life as a drunkard was nothing more than a long fever dream. The nobleman then has the play put on for the drunkard's diversion. Basically, it's the inspiration behind that Julia Stiles film "Ten Things I Hate About You". So, imagine "Ten Things" set in the 16 century.
I played Grumio, servant to Petruchio. Grumio is a sarcastic man with a quick wit who interprets his master's orders in the most literal sense possible. There's a lot of comedic moments with Grumio, and it's important to play him as foolish yet wise.
Throughout the play, there were a number of issues that cropped up, most often due to cast members who had to pull out of the production for one reason or another. I was often looked to in order to help iron out issues with replacing absent actors or helping present ones with their methods. After 8 shows at this theater alone, I'm seen as a "veteran". I find that immensely gratifying, as I never thought I would ever be considered a veteran of anything. It's yet another sign that I've been putting down deep roots in the community.
We've got one more weekend of shows to do, and, after a rocky start, it seems that the cast is finally ready to meet this show head on and deliver an amazing performance.