Friday, February 21, 2014

Shakespeare Reference in Scientology Cult Book

As you probably already know, L. Ron Hubbard was a science fiction writer who created the cult of Scientology. He went on to write a number of books for the followers of the cult, including one titled The Problems Of Work: Scientology Applied To The Workaday World.  This book, somewhat surprisingly, has a Hamlet reference. The seventh chapter, titled "Exhaustion," begins with these lines: "TO WORK OR NOT TO WORK? That is the question. The answer to that question in most men's minds is EXHAUSTION." Yeah, it doesn't have quite the same ring as Shakespeare's original lines. And it doesn't quite make sense to answer that question with a noun. But there you have it.

The Problems Of Work: Scientology Applied To The Workaday World – Another Cult Classic by L. Ron Hubbard

L. Ron Hubbard, the creator of Dianetics and Scientology, understood that he had to keep his followers busy, and had to keep them buying. So, to relate Scientology to every aspect of his followers' lives, he produced a large number of books, including The Problems Of Work: Scientology Applied To The Workaday World.

He begins the book with one of his great claims: “Scientology is already in use in many of the larger businesses of Earth” (page 1). He, of course, offers no examples. He lists no specific business, but does specify that they are “of Earth.” It might seem a silly distinction to make, but L. was a science fiction writer, so his loyal readers probably needed that made clear.

Soon he makes another of his amazing claims: “Scientology is something new under the sun. But, young as it is, it is still the only completely and thoroughly tested and validated science of existence” (p. 14). So it’s a science, not a religion? Why does it have tax-exempt status then? Well, his wild claims continue: “Scientology can, and does, increase human intelligence. By the most exact tests known, it has been proven that Scientology can greatly increase intelligence in an individual. And Scientology can do other things. It can reduce reaction time and it can pull the years off one’s appearance” (p. 14). Wow, it can make you smarter, more alert and better looking.

Confusion is the basic cause of stupidity. To the stupid, all things except the very simple ones are confused. Thus, if one knew the anatomy of confusion, no matter how bright one might be, he would be brighter” (p. 22). I’m a bit concerned, because this book is confusing me, and as I just learned, that could lead to stupidity. I suppose the best thing would be to stop reading this and go read something that is more clearly written.

Regarding how to handle a confused employee, L. writes: “‘This is a machine,’ you say. Then make him sure of it. Make him feel it, fiddle with it, push at it.This is a machine,’ tell him. And you’d be surprised how long it may take, but you’d be surprised as well how his certainty increases” (p. 25). Yes, after a while he will be certain that the machine is a machine. Or you could hire someone who is a little less regarded and already understands that it’s a machine. Then you could start right in on what he or she is actually supposed to do with the machine, rather than spending a day convincing your new employee that it is a machine.

Confusion is certainly the problem. L. writes: “So long as one is being confused by confusions, all he can think about are destructive things – what he wants to do most is to destroy the confusion” (p. 26). That is so true. Whenever confusions are confusing me, my thoughts turn to destruction of confusion rather than trying to reason or compromise with confusion.

As always, L. is obsessed with insanity, which he equates here with an inability to work. “As the amount of automatic machinery increases in our society, so increases the percentile of our people who are insane” (p. 34). He also believes that giving jobs to insane people will cure them of their madness. Sure, but please don’t let them pilot airplanes or sort my mail.

By the way, if you felt safe from madness, you might want to think again. L. tells us, “Insanity is contagious” (p. 61). I once caught the crazy from a girl I was seeing, but I’m better now. L. continues: “Confusion is contagious. Have you ever talked to a confused man without yourself, at the end of the conversation, feeling a little confused? Thus it is in work” (p. 61).

Interestingly, L. equates work, and all of life, with a game. He believes that people need enemies, or opponents, and that if they don’t have them, they will invent them. An odd, somewhat paranoid viewpoint. Is it possible that L., the leader of a cult, wasn’t entirely stable?

On page 72, he writes, “The subject of this book is work.” A handy little reminder, because sometimes it’s unclear just what the hell he’s going on about. Thanks, L.

Throughout the book, L. talks about vague cases of individuals, people who must have only been able to get the help they needed through L.’s organization. At one point he talks of a girl who was unhappy and as a result was doing poorly at her job. “Now ordinarily in the workaday world, the office manager would have dismissed her and found another girl. But employment was critical at the time and this office manager knew the modern thing to do: He sent for a Scientologist” (p. 86). That’s just what I would do. I certainly wouldn’t attempt to talk to the girl on my own. Leave that to the experts. It’s best to send for a Scientologist. Just ring up the office and order one, like calling for a taxi or an exorcist.

L. writes: “If a man were to go all the way around an office in which he had worked for years and touch the walls and window ledges and the equipment and tables and desks and chairs – ascertaining carefully the feel of each one, carefully locating each one with regard to the walls and other items in the room – he would feel much better about the entire room” (p. 78). This is a point that is so important that it’s illustrated on the following page, and below the illustration the point is repeated. And look, there’s a little star where the guy touched each object. He’s creating his own little constellation in his work environment. I think it’s interesting that there are no other employees in the drawing. Perhaps that’s because if there were, they’d all be staring at him or even wrestling him to the floor. After all, it’s difficult to get your own work done when a fellow employee wants to touch everything on your desk and create little stars.

This little touching game isn’t limited to simply the work environment. L. writes: “It sounds very strange that if one simply touched his automobile and let go, and touched it and let go, and touched it and let go, and touched it and let go, possibly for some hours, he would regain not only his enthusiasm for the automobile, but a tremendous ability to control the automobile which he had never suspected in himself at all” (p. 98) I agree: It does sound very strange. I don’t think Scientologists should be allowed to teach drivers education. Then again, L. sagely writes, “When one turns loose an automobile wheel and hopes the car will stay on the road, by luck, he is often disappointed.” That is so true.

This book also offers some advice regarding marriage: “If one feels antagonistic towards one’s wife, the wrong thing to do is ‘beat her’!” (p. 112). I wonder why “beat her” is in quotation marks. And remember: “Before two people can feel any affinity for each other, they must to some degree be real” (p. 85). That is so true. It is difficult to have affection for someone if that person doesn’t actually exist. At least to some degree.

By the way, regarding the whole touching of objects thing, L. writes: “This sounds like magic. It is magic. It is Scientology” (p. 98). Wait, is Scientology a science, or religion, or magic? I am so confused.

The Problems Of Work: Scientology Applied To The Workaday World was published in 1957. The edition I read is from 2007.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

R + J Equal Love (Inner Circle Theatre 2014 Production) Theatre Review

I am always excited and hopeful when I hear of a theatre company doing something new with one of Shakespeare’s plays. Inner Circle Theatre’s production, R + J Equal Love – the company’s first full-length production – is a new take on The Tragedy Of Romeo And Juliet. This production is unusual in many ways. Even its location – in the back of a fashion store in downtown L.A. – is something of a surprise.

The space itself is set up as theatre in the round, with the stage as two long platforms in the form of a cross, with a small, slightly higher platform in the center. At the end of each of the four arms is a station for one of the four characters, where he or she can retreat. That’s right – in this production, only four characters are actually physically present – Romeo, Juliet, the Nurse and Friar Lawrence. Because of that, the focus is really on the relationship between Romeo and Juliet.

What is also interesting is that the production is broken into two acts, but each act has the complete arc of their story. The first time through it is played by women in both lead roles, and the second time through by men. Their names remain the same, but in the first act, Romeo is a female character – it’s not a woman playing a man’s role – and in the second act Juliet is a male character. So it presents the play as two homosexual relationships, and yet the feud between their families is still what is at the root of the troubles. The only indication that anyone might be against the relationship because of its same-sex quality is the fact that Paris’ gender is always opposite Juliet’s – in the first act, Paris is male, and in the second act, Paris is female. And so Juliet’s parents have arranged a heterosexual marriage.

The production is modern dress, and with some multimedia content. For example, it opens with a news report flashed on two of the white walls, which contains part of the opening chorus’ speech as well as news footage of the first scene (including the biting of the thumbs). So while only four actors are present in each act, other characters are portrayed using recorded voices and images projected on the walls. What this does is really make us focus and identify with Romeo and Juliet. For example, Mercutio isn’t given the chance to steal the show, as that character is a voice that we hear. But Romeo still interacts with Mercutio. (By the way, in the first act, Mercutio is female.)

With each act just under an hour, obviously a lot is cut. After the news report, the play begins with Act I Scene iii, with the sound of a phone ringing and Juliet’s “How now, who calls?” Lady Capulet is presented as a recorded voice and photo projected on the wall, a sort of Caller ID. Then, after a brief bit of Romeo’s conversation with Mercutio from Act I Scene iv, we go right to the first meeting of Romeo and Juliet, approaching each other from opposite sides of the cross. In both acts, this first meeting has a wonderful, palpable joy.

From their meeting, we go straight to the balcony scene. By the way, the blocking isn’t always the same in both acts. In the first act, Romeo crawls along the platform toward Juliet, then retreats, which is actually quite funny. And of course, the line readings are different. The female Juliet is playful, quite like a child, until “What satisfaction canst thou have tonight,” which she delivers in kind of a sexual way. The male Juliet delivers it in a flirtatious manner, but not as overtly sexual as the female Juliet. I love the male Romeo’s delivery of “What shall I swear by?” He delivers it as a simple question, which is surprisingly rare. Another thing that I love about this scene is that the director has chosen to follow Q2 in assigning Romeo the “Parting is such sweet sorrow” line, which is almost always given to Juliet. (Sadly, the “A rose by any other word” line is cut.)

Because of the changing genders, some lines do change. When the Nurse tells Juliet of Romeo’s identity in the first act, she says, “Her name is Romeo, and a Montague.” And sometimes there is an interesting mix, which changes the meaning slightly. For example, in the first act when the Nurse is telling Juliet of her encounter with the female Romeo, she says, “Though her face be better than any man’s.” So “his” is changed to “her” but “man’s” remains “man’s.” Thus the line becomes an acknowledgement of the homosexual nature of the relationship. Also interesting (and getting a laugh from the audience) is that the Nurse is clearly attracted to Romeo (particularly when describing Romeo’s legs). One loss we get in the changing of certain words is the great rhyme when Nurse says “Will you speak well of him that kill’d your cousin” and Juliet replies “Shall I speak ill of him that is my husband?” In the first act, “husband” is necessarily changed to “wife,” and so the line doesn’t really work with the same power, though the female Juliet still delivers it with exactly the right energy.

I do wonder if people without any prior exposure to the play will be able to follow everything because of some of the cuts. For example, when Juliet is anxious for the Nurse’s return, this production has cut the previous scene where the Nurse and Romeo talk. And, more importantly, the Apothecary scene is cut, as is the scene where Romeo receives word of Juliet’s death from Balthasar. So what makes Romeo return? Because he’s heard no news, it seems that Romeo returns simply out of impatience. And where did he get the poison, and why, since he hasn’t heard of her death? The scene is more awkward in the male version, because Romeo begins to sob even before approaching Juliet, so for some reason he assumes just at the sight of her that she is dead and not simply sleeping (the scene takes place in Juliet’s chamber not the tomb).

It is interesting how the different actors have different moments in which they shine. For example, I absolutely love the female Romeo in the scene where she asks the Friar’s consent to marry them. And the male Romeo is excellent in the scene where he says, "Heaven is here, where Juliet lives." The female Juliet’s delivery of “Poison, I see, hath been his timeless end” is wonderful, particularly because of her pause before “I see.” And the male Juliet shines in that scene, but in the moment just prior to that. The male Juliet takes a longer moment to rouse after Romeo’s death, and is happy at first at seeing Romeo, and so his delivery of “What’s here, a cup clos’d in my true love’s hand” is rather playful, which is a nice variation.

The cross design provides opportunities for some really wonderfully and meaningfully staged moments. One example that stands out for me is when Romeo is talking to Tybalt (who is not physically present, of course), he (or she, in the first act) is at one end of the platform looking toward Juliet as he/she says, “good Capulet, which name I tender as dearly as mine own.” Juliet is present and at the receiving end of that line, though Romeo sees Tybalt. It also works to show how Juliet will be affected by Tybalt’s death even before Romeo and he fight.

One other thing that is remarkable is that the multimedia aspect of the production never gets in the way of the story, and somehow this production keeps all of that stuff from feeling silly. The play is essentially done without props. There are props at each of the four stations (and there's a wonderful moment when the Nurse interacts with audience members when returning from her meeting with Romeo), but when on the platform the actors perform without props. Thus objects like the vial and the dagger are imagined.

Because the space is essentially a warehouse, there are at times some issues with sound. And the stage smoke was a bit heavy in the first act, slightly obscuring the actors’ expressions when they were at the corner farthest from you, as well as the photos projected on the wall. But that was fixed for the second act.

R + J Equal Love stars Teena Pugliese as Romeo, Liz Fenning as Juliet, Carmine DiBenedetto as Romeo, Justin Alastair as Juliet, Elena Campbell-Martinez as Nurse, and Wesley Mann as Friar Lawrence. It is directed by Casey Kringlen. There is one fifteen-minute intermission. The production runs only through February 22nd, so with so few performances, it might be best to get your tickets now. The production is at The Well, which is located at 1006 S. Olive St. in Los Angeles.

(Note: I also posted this review on Pop Culture Beast.)

Friday, February 14, 2014

Shakespeare Study: The Taming Of The Shrew (revisited)

I hadn’t yet finished my three and a half years of Shakespeare study when I decided that I would be revisiting key plays. Basically, what I decided is that whenever I acquired more Shakespeare DVDs, I would re-read the play or plays in question. I first returned to A Midsummer Night’s Dream. And now I’m returning to The Taming Of The Shrew.

In March of 2010, here is what I read and saw:

The Taming Of The Shrew (The Yale Shakespeare; edited by Thomas G. Bergin)
Related Books:
- The Taming Of The Shrew: Critical Essays  edited by Dana E. Aspinall
Film Versions:
- The Taming Of The Shrew  (1980) with John Cleese, Sarah Badel, Susan Penhaligon; directed by Jonathan Miller
- The Taming Of The Shrew (1967) with Elizabeth Taylor, Richard Burton, Cyril Cusack; directed by Franco Zeffirelli
- 10 Things I Hate About You  (1999) with Julia Stiles, Heath Ledger, Joseph Gordon-Levitt; directed by Gil Junger 

This time around, I read the Arden Shakespeare edition, edited by Brian Morris. The copy I read is the 2002 reprint. It includes an excellent 149-page introduction, as well as lots of footnotes and some appendices.
Regarding The Taming Of A Shrew, Morris writes: “A Pleasant Conceited Historie called The taming of a Shrew. As it was sundry times acted by the Right honorable the Earle of Pembrook his servants was entered on the Stationers’ Register on 2 May 1594, printed by Peter Short for Cuthbert Burbie, and published in the same year. Shakespeare’s The Taming of the Shrew first appeared in print twenty-nine years later in F (1623). The two plays are clearly related in some way, and the similarity in their titles makes it difficult to be confident which play is being referred to in the handful of contemporary references which have survived. They seem to have been treated as identical for purposes of copyright (pages 12-13). He then writes: “The two plays agree in many respects. The main ‘taming’ plot is the same in both, and both have a sub-plot of romantic intrigue; Christopher Sly appears in both plays; the shrew is tamed in both by the same means. In both plays the husband behaves scandalously at the wedding, starves his wife afterwards, rejects the work of a Haberdasher and a Tailor, and misuses his servants. In both the wife is brought to submission, asserts that the sun is the moon and pretends an old man is a young girl. Each play culminates in a feast at which men wager on their wives’ obedience. In some places the dialogue corresponds closely, occasionally and briefly word for word; in others, and for long stretches, there is no connection. With the exception of Katherina (Kate) the characters have different names, and one play is set in Padua, the other in Athens” (pages 13-14). Regarding differences between the plays, Morris writes: “A Shrew has three sisters, three suitors and no rivalry. The Shrew has two sisters, and rivalry between three suitors (Lucentio, Hortensio and Gremio) for the younger of them” (p. 21).
Morris argues that The Taming Of A Shrew is a bad quarto of Shakespeare’s original play. Regarding the Induction, Morris writes: “Wentersdorf has created a most convincing case for his conclusion that the framework of induction, interludes and epilogue was complete in Shakespeare’s original version of The Shrew. Whether anything equivalent to the third interlude was present or not it is impossible to say, but there would have been no necessity for the compiler of A Shrew to invent one at that point in the action, and so we may conclude that he was reporting, however inaccurately, something which stood in the original” (p. 44). Regarding how A Shrew came to be, Morris writes: “It seems to me that the actor who played Grumio is primarily responsible for the memorial reconstruction off A Shrew’s text. He recalls some of his own words, many of the comic scenes in which he was concerned, he has a general sense of what others were saying and doing when he was on stage, and no clear recollection of the sub-plot in which he had no concern” (p. 48).
Regarding the play in relation to Shakespeare work, Morris writes: “The Taming of the Shrew is Shakespeare’s earliest comedy” (p. 61). “It might, indeed, be not simply Shakespeare’s first comedy: it might be his first play” (p. 62). “No other play in the canon refers so specifically and extensively to the county of his birth. It may well be that when he began writing The Shrew Shakespeare was making dramatic capital out of personal nostalgia, recalling a countryside he had quite recently left” (p. 63).
Regarding the play’s appeal, Morris writes, “Part of the theatrical appeal of The Shrew lies in the succession of disguises, deceptions and misprisions which accompany the contest for Bianca’s hand, and which stand in such sharp contrast to the direct, forthright wooing of Katherina by Petruchio” (p. 83).
About the actual taming, Morris writes: “Biondello’s entry, with his long description of Petruchio’s grotesque clothing and knackered horse, builds up his eventual appearance on stage, but also allows the audience to realize that the bridegroom is approaching his marriage disgracefully unprepared. Petruchio’s point is that so is the bride. He displaces her emotional unpreparedness on to his own garments and means of transport, just as the dramaturgy of the scene displaces the simple sight of him so arrayed on to the more explicit and telling verbal description” (p. 107). Again regarding the taming, Morris writes: “The plan is to confuse, to baffle, to bewilder her by presenting her with a perpetual image of what he thinks her behaviour ought to be. And it is important that Katherina should fail to understand what he is doing. Throughout the play she is presented as not particularly intelligent, and she never stops to analyse his behaviour, to plan, to counter. She simply reacts, violently, to stimuli. In this respect, too, she is like the animal: her reactions are ‘shrewish’” (p. 124).
Regarding Katherina’s famous last speech, Morris writes: “The speech is rooted and grounded in well-known, sacred and serious expressions of the duty of wives. Shakespeare cannot possibly have intended it to be spoken ironically” (p. 146). “Petruchio enquires after the Widow and Bianca, and instructs Katherina to ‘fetch them hither.’ But he adds: ‘If they deny to come,/Swinge me them soundly forth unto their husbands.’ In other words, he offers her the chance to use physical violence on the Widow who has insulted her, and the sly and shrewish sister she has been itching to beat since Act II. And it would all be legitimate, praiseworthy and ‘obedient.’ Katherina sees and appreciates the clever, generous point he makes” (p. 148).
In a footnote, Morris informs us: “It was Pope who labelled the first two scenes ‘Induction.’ The word does not occur in the Folio text, which begins ‘Actus primus. Scoena Prima’” (p. 110). And at the bottom of the dramatis personae, he writes, “The name Petruchio must be pronounced with the ‘ch’ as in English ‘much’; never as ‘Petrukkio’” (p. 152). In a footnote about the lines “Am I not wise?/Yes, keep you warm,” Morris writes: “The allusion is to the proverb ‘He is wise enough that can keep himself warm’ …Katherina implies that Petruchio has no more than minimum wisdom” (pages 210-211).

(As with A Midsummer Night's Dream, I will post film reviews separately.)

Related Books:

- William Shakespeare’s The Taming Of The Shrew  by Ruth Mitchell  -  This is a volume in the Barron’s Book Notes series, and is intended as a study aid for students. It features a scene-by-scene look at the play, as well as some study questions. In the chapter “The Author and His Times,” Ruth Mitchell writes: “The standards of production in publishing and printing operations were not high. Sheets of manuscript could get lost as they were taken from the playhouse to the printing shop by errand boys. This may have happened with the last few sheets of The Taming of the Shrew, which seems to be lacking the final scenes to match the introductory framework of the Induction” (p. 3). In the section on the characters, Mitchell writes: “Petruchio seems genuinely attracted to Katherina precisely because of her independence and feistiness. Had docility and wealth been his only goals, he could have joined in the competition for Bianca. And his crude language, full of the often bawdy slang of the Elizabethan period, may seem a refreshing change from the romantic clich├ęs with which Lucentio woos Bianca” (p. 12). Regarding Tranio, Mitchell writes: “Tranio speaks in verse (a sign of superior thought and station in Shakespeare), whereas the other servants speak in prose. In fact, he seems quite at home giving orders to these other, more clownish, servants” (pages 16-17). And about the Widow, Mitchell writes: “She continues to be so ungracious that Petruchio asks Katherina to address her speech on women’s duty first to her. The Widow is a reminder of Katherina’s former self, contrasted with Katherina so that you can see how much Katherina has changed” (p. 18). And then in the chapter looking at each scene, Mitchell writes (regarding Act II Scene i): “The noise of their dispute brings their father in to part them. As he rebukes Katherina and soothes Bianca, you may get some clues about the origin of Katherina’s ill temper. Her father seems to prefer Bianca” (p. 59). And then, regarding Act IV Scene iii, Mitchell writes: “Petruchio bursts out in a marvelously punning piece of insult to the tailor based on sewing terminology. Tailors were commonly despised because they were meek little men who spent their days in apparently unmanly pursuits but were also able to cheat their customers easily. The Elizabethan audience probably cheered Petruchio’s speech heartily” (p. 76). This book was published in 1985.

- Readings On The Taming Of The Shrew  edited by Laura Marvel  -  This is a volume in the Greenhaven Press Literary Companion Series, and is a collection of essays on the play. In the opening essay, Marvel writes: “The movement of the play from Christopher Sly’s evocation of Warwickshire in the Induction to the play world of Kate and Petruchio’s Padua intimates Shakespeare’s own position early in his London years: He is tied to the people and places of home (the Slys were indeed familiar in Stratford), yet actively involved in a new world of theater, a world based on money and upward mobility, as well as on roles and role-playing, creative transformation of self and of sources” (p. 29).
Regarding the Lord’s lines about what should be done with Sly, J. Dennis Huston writes, “What is happening here is that the creative impulse is taking hold of the Lord and he is becoming a playwright, imagining the details of scene, costume, and even dialogue” (p. 44). Later in that same essay, Huston writes: “Baptista’s initial exit in Act I, scene i, when he conspicuously leaves Kate behind because he has ‘more to commune with Bianca’ is surely an emblematic statement of Kate’s exclusion from the family unit. And a similar condition of isolation from society as a whole is suggested by the way characters talk derisively about Kate in her presence, almost as if she were not there at all. But if society isolates Kate by manipulating her, Petruchio integrates her by manipulation” (p. 46).
Regarding the induction and the lack of an epilogue, Harold C. Goddard writes: “All sorts of explanations for the artistic lapse have been conjured up, the most popular being that the last leaf of the manuscript, in which he did so return, was somehow lost or that the scene was left to the improvisation of the actors and so was never reduced to writing. But surely the editors of the Folio would have been aware of this and could have supplied at least a stage direction to clear things up!” (p. 53).
Lynda E. Boose writes: “In her suggestion to Petruchio to ‘Remove you hence. I knew you at the first/You were a movable’ lies the disdaining insult by which Kate identifies her suitor as one of England’s newly mobile social groups, either a vagabond or a social climber attempting to move up” (p. 64). A little later in the same piece, Boose writes: “When he denies her the cap that all the ‘gentlewomen wear’ by saying, ‘When you are gentle you shall have one too,/And not till then,’ he again switches the reference from her assumption of entitlement based on class status to one that makes it contingent on the exhibition of appropriately submissive female behavior, a standard of gender defined by male authority” (p. 65).
Regarding the line in the Induction where Sly calls the Hostess “boy,” Juliet Dusinberre writes: “I want to argue that he calls her boy because she is a boy. The Hostess must, in Shakespeare’s theatre, have been played by a boy actor. But if Sly addresses her as a boy, then a new dimension is added to the interchange. In his drunkenness he seems momentarily to refuse to enter the play: to be, not a drunken beggar, but a drunken actor, who forgets that his dialogue is with a Hostess, and thinks that the boy actor is getting above himself. In other words, the theatrical illusion seems to be tested before it is even under way. Is Sly a beggar, or is he an actor who must play a beggar?” (p. 87). Sadly, Dusinberre later in the piece writes, “the stage power of the female heroine,” “female heroine” being perfectly redundant. I always expect more from people who are writing about Shakespeare.
Regarding Katherina, Robert B. Heilman writes, “Shakespeare presents her binding and beating Bianca to show that he is really committed to a shrew; such episodes make it hard to defend the view that she is an innocent victim or is posing as a shrew out of general disgust” (p. 108).
John C. Bean writes, regarding Katherina’s lines to Vincentio: “This emphasis on sunshine and greenness is significant because the weather during their previous trip from Padua to the country house was dominated by frost and cold. When Kate discovers laughter, the weather turns springtime, for Shakespeare sees in Kate not a taming but a renewal and rebirth. When she is liberated from shrewishness, she perceives the world with new eyes and everything ‘seemeth green’” (p. 120).
This book was published in 2000.

- William Shakespeare’s The Taming Of The Shrew  adapted by Vincent Goodwin; illustrated by Chris Allen  -  This is a volume in the Graphic Shakespeare series. It’s quite short, and so a lot is cut. The Induction is cut completely. Gremio is presented as a very tiny man with a walking stick. Though Katherina is not present in the first scene and her lines are cut, Tranio still says to Lucentio, “Marked you not how her sister began to scold and raise up such a storm that mortal ears might hardly endure the din?” (p. 10). That doesn’t make sense, for how could he have marked her when she wasn’t there? Petruchio’s line to Hortensio, “Haply to wive and thrive as best I may” is cut, but Hortensio still responds, “Petruchio, shall I then wish thee to a shrewd, ill-favored wife?” (p. 11). Oddly, his famous “I come to wive it wealthily in Padua/If wealthily, then happily in Padua” is also cut. The first time we see Katherina in this version is when Hortensio describes her to Petruchio. The image is of her with her hands on her hips, leaning forward as if reprimanding the reader. In this book, when Hortensio returns with the broken lute, his head is somehow through the instrument, which is stupid. Katherina’s line “asses are made to bear, and so are you” is cut, yet Petruchio’s retort, “Women are made to bear, and so are you” is left intact. Most of the wasp dialogue is present, but that section ends with Katherina’s line “Yours, if you talk of tails! And so farewell.” Petruchio’s great line, “What, with my tongue in your tail?” is cut. Lucentio and one other character spy on Petruchio and Katherina during their verbal spat, an odd choice.
The book has a big error. When Tranio and Gremio are trying to impress Baptista and win Bianca’s hand, Baptista says, “I must confess your offer is the best, Tranio” (p. 24). But Tranio is disguised as Lucentio. In the play, Baptista simply says, “I must confess your offer is the best.” If the book is to add a name, it must be Lucentio, for Baptista has never even heard of Tranio. A very big error.
All the stuff before the wedding where they wait for Petruchio is cut, which eliminates an important moment where Katherina is first shown to be hurt by Petruchio (showing at least some attraction for him). The Haberdasher is cut. Vincentio is cut completely. At the end when Katherina responds to Petruchio’s summoning, he does not tell her to bring in the other women. And her famous speech is completely cut, which is unforgivable.
This, like many of the Shakespeare books aimed at children, seems to have been created by people who doesn’t understand the plays. There are cuts that take away important points of the play, and of course bad errors.
This book was published in 2011.

- The Taming Of The Shrew  edited and with an introduction by Harold Bloom  -  This is a volume in the Bloom’s Shakespeare Through The Ages series, which collects criticism from various times. The essays are presented chronologically. From the summary of the play at the beginning of the book: “While the men might have thought Sly would willingly leap at the chance to be a lord, he does not. Here Shakespeare is already commenting on personal identity, the role of wealth, and the use of disguise and trickery” (p. 6). From the section on key passages in the play: “Keep in mind that Kate, from the start of the bet, was smart enough to realize that something was going on even though she hadn’t heard the men discuss the bet. She saw the servants come – first for one woman, then another, and then herself – and surmised that doing what her husband requested would help him out; show the other women that she was not the wild shrew that they had believed; and make the other women, who had already been antagonistic to her, look bad” (pages 29-30).
Charlotte Carmichael Stopes, in a piece from 1904, writes, regarding Katherina when men come to woo Bianca: “She had not thought of a husband until then, but the idea was naturally suggested, just as she discovered that both of the men desired her sister. The awkwardness might have passed over; she might have consoled herself on the sour-grape theory that Gremio was too old and Hortensio too weak for her, that she would have no rival at home were but her sister married; but her unwise father, not content with having discoursed openly of her vile temper, repeats before her and others his desire to get rid of her, and offers her to either of her sister’s suitors, without consulting her taste or theirs” (p. 89).
Harold C. Goddard, in a piece from 1951, writes: “And though we have to allow for the obvious exaggeration of farce in his extreme antics, Petruchio’s procedure at bottom shows insight, understanding, and even love. Those actors who equip him with a whip miss Shakespeare’s man entirely. In principle, if not in the rougher details, he employs just the right method in the circumstances, and the end amply justifies the means” (p. 109).
Ruth Nevo, in a piece from 1980, writes, regarding Katherina: “No one about her can penetrate her defenses, so great her need for assurance. So determined is she to make herself invulnerable that she makes herself insufferable, and finds in insufferability her one defense” (p. 132). Later in that same piece, Nevo writes: “Petruchio has enlisted Kate’s will and wit on his side, not broken them, and it is the function of the final festive test to confirm and exhibit this” (pages 138-139).
Camille Wells Slights, in a piece from 1989, writes: “Characters so universally equate personal with economic worth and so unabashedly declare their economic motives that the effect is not individual characterization so much as the establishment of the values and mores of an acquisitive society” (p. 146). Later in the same piece Wells Slights writes: “Bianca, like her sister, gains her independence through a lover who overcomes the social conventions that confine her. Lucentio usurps the authority of both fathers, supplanting his own father with a substitute and defying Bianca’s by marrying her ‘without asking [his] good will’ (V.i.134)” (p. 154). Wells Slights ends the piece with: “By presenting Kate’s transformation in a play-within-a-play, he also allows the unsettling implication that this happy reconciliation of individual freedom with repressive communal values is possible only in a work of art” (p. 160).
Unfortunately, this volume concludes with a ridiculous piece by Carolyn E. Brown, from 2004. She believes that Shakespeare intended us to view Petruchio and Bianca as shrews, and Katherina as an innocent victim. I am so tired of feminists re-interpreting everything through their narrow vision and agenda. In trying to make Katherina a sweet, innocent woman, in describing Act II Scene i, Carolyn E. Brown fails to mention one significant detail – that Katherina has Bianca physically bound. Sure, it’s easy to fit things into your narrow viewpoint if you leave out all elements that argue to the contrary. Brown writes: “In this meeting with Bianca, isolated Katherine reaches out for a meaningful, genuine conversation with her sister, addressing Bianca in all seriousness and beseeching her to speak from her heart and to drop her shrewish game playing” (p. 168). And then: “Bianca is adept and ‘shrewd’ at turning situations to her advantage, especially at making herself look like the victim and the good sister, as Petruchio makes himself look like the good master” (p. 169). Bianca is the victim in this scene. She is tied up with rope! It’s not hard to look like the victim when the other person has tied you up. How can Carolyn keep avoiding this one obvious detail? Later she adds, “At the beginning of 2.1, we saw Bianca privately torment Katherine, but once her father entered, we saw her play the innocent role” (p. 171). You mean, once her father untied her? And how does Bianca privately torment Katherine from her position of being bound? It’s not just that one scene that Brown doesn’t understand. And it’s not just that one scene where she deliberately leaves out important elements. She mentions how Petruchio treats the Tailor as evidence of Petruchio’s brutish nature, but fails to mention that he makes sure the man gets paid, which of course indicates that it was all a show for Katherina’s benefit and not an indication of his true personality. She also writes: “Shakespeare allows for the reading that Katherine breaks the lute over Hortensio’s head not because she is uncontrollably violent but because she will not let him take sexual liberties with her as her sister allows” (pages 172-173). Where the hell did she get that? What version of the play is she reading? Is there some special edition designed for feminists and rape victims? At least Carolyn at the beginning of her essay admits that she stayed away from The Taming Of The Shrew for a long time precisely because it didn’t fit well with her own personal viewpoint. It wasn’t until someone else re-interpreted the play in a way that suited her own tastes that she even gave the play a chance. It saddens me that this woman has been allowed to teach at the college level (at the University Of San Francisco).
This book was published in 2008.

- The Shrew  by Charles Marowitz  -  This play is an adaptation of The Taming Of The Shrew. It uses much of Shakespeare’s dialogue, but cuts several characters, rearranges certain scenes, and also adds contemporary scenes. It is a much more serious, darker piece. In the introduction, Marowitz writes, “The modern technique for brainwashing is, almost to the letter, what Petruchio makes Katherine undergo. Deprivation of food, deprivation of sleep, disorientation of faculties; cruelty camouflaged as kindness; a reversal of moral values which turns the tormentor into a holy man and the tormented into a hopeless sinner. Petruchio’s evil genie punishes Katherine for the greatest crime of all – social rebellion. A woman she can be, she must be; but not her kind of woman – rather, the social cipher that Baptista prefers, that Bianca unquestionably is, that Hortensio would have all women be, that Petruchio labours to create” (pages 20-21).
This play begins with Act II Scene I of Shakespeare’s work, with Bianca bound. After Kate has her line about revenge, she exits. And Petruchio enters with Grumio, but it is not the scene where he and Katherina do their verbal dance. It’s Petruchio’s first scene of the play. Hortensio enters from the other side, and Petruchio tells him why he has come to Padua. Oddly, when Hortensio tells Petruchio that Kate is rich, he uses the description that Gremio gives of his own riches: “Her house within the city/Is Richly furnished with plate and gold,/Costly apparel, tents, and canopies” (p. 31). Oddly again, he then uses Tranio’s lines from the same scene of Shakespeare’s play: “Then three argosies, besides two galliases/and twelve light galleys” (p. 32). And then Petruchio goes to Baptista to woo Kate. Petruchio presents Hortensio as Litio (though I'm not sure there's much point to that in this version). Petruchio’s speech describing how he’ll woo her is done as dialogue, with Hortensio and Grumio firing questions at Petruchio. For example, Hortensio says, “Say that she rail?” And Petruchio answers, “Why then I’ll tell her plain/She sings as sweetly as a nightingale” (p. 35). In the Petruchio/Katherina scene, though the lines are Shakespeare’s, the stage directions indicate that they’re to be said in a more serious manner, particularly Petruchio’s. And then after “Marry, so I mean, sweet Katherine, in thy bed,” a stage direction calls for Petruchio to grab Kate’s crotch, then grab her wrists. Grumio forces Kate to put her hand in Petruchio’s, and then holds her arm when Petruchio demands a kiss.
Then it goes to a contemporary scene, with Bianca and Hortensio in modern clothing as simply Girl and Boy. And this too is a wooing scene of sorts. But she leaves at the end.
We then go to the wedding, where Kate is being assisted in preparations. The stage directions indicate, “KATE, standing motionless like a doll, wearing a simple white shift; eyes straight ahead; a vague sense of being the victim of some grim, unwanted social ceremony” (p. 48). Petruchio is late, and when he arrives, he is wearing a bridal gown. He stands next to Kate for a moment, and then the play goes right to the feast, skipping the ceremony itself.
We then go to another contemporary scene, where the Boy is jealous because the Girl spoke at length with another man at a party. The Boy and Girl are engaged.
The play returns to Kate and Petruchio arriving at Petruchio’s home. It is Hortensio that removes Petruchio’s boots. Grumio is dressed as the Tailor, and presents both the hat and gown. It is after Grumio as the Tailor has left that we go to the dinner scene, the reverse order of the play. When Petruchio delivers his “Thus have I politicly begun my reign” speech to the audience, the stage directions indicate “an overt psychopathic manner” (p. 61).
We go back to the Boy and Girl, who are arguing, this time it being she who is suspicious of his activity.
Kate finally eats a bit. And Petruchio mentions the “silken coats and caps and golden rings” (p. 70), but it doesn’t make sense here, because the Tailor scene has already happened.
Grumio is disguised as an old man, taking the place of Vincentio, who is cut from this adaptation. So the scene has a completely different feel because Grumio is not really an old man and because he’s in on the scheme. Grumio says his name is Antonia, and says he’s on his way to Padua to visit his son, Petruchio. Kate goes a little mad, and then, oddly, we get some dialogue from the Induction, with Kate in the place of Sly. Baptista says the Messenger’s line, “Seeing too much sadness hath congealed your blood” (p. 74). Grumio says the First Servant’s line, “Will’t please you drink a cup of sack?” (p. 74). And Hortensio says the Second Servant’s line, “Will’t please you taste of these conserves?” (p. 74). Kate says Sly’s “Or do I dream or have I dreamed till now?” (p. 75). But then when Petruchio enters, he speaks Sly’s lines, such as “Are you my wife and will not call me husband?” That forces Kate to switch to the role of the Page who acts as Sly’s wife: “My husband and my lord, my lord and husband./I am your wife in all obedience” (p. 76). Petruchio then rapes her.
The final scene is done as a courtroom scene, with Kate told to give her final speech. There is no wager, no Widow. The stage directions indicate, “Obviously, she has learned this speech by rote and is delivering it as if the words were being spoken by another” (p. 77). At one point, she is prompted by Petruchio. The last line is “My hand is ready, may it do him ease.”  The contemporary Boy and Girl, now married (or getting married), stand behind Kate.
This book was published in 1975.

- William Shakespeare’s The Taming Of The Shrew  by Luella E. McMahon  -  This adaptation is done as a one-act play, so of course much is cut. It begins with Baptista saying that he is firmly resolved not to have Bianca married until Katherina is married. Some of the dialogue is Shakespeare’s, and some is Luella E. McMahon’s. For example, Katherina’s first line is “Bianca -- always Bianca!” (p. 5). Interestingly, Baptista says to Katherina: “How is it, girl, you have no suitor? What of Tranio?” (p. 6). In Shakespeare’s play, Baptista doesn’t even know the name Tranio until the end. Baptista says, “Lucentio, then?” In Shakespeare’s play, Tranio is disguised as Lucentio, so they are sort of one and the same as far as Baptista knows. Then Baptista suggests, “Vincentio -- perhaps?
It goes right from that scene to the scene where Bianca is bound. Of the suitors to Bianca, Katherina mentions Hortensio and someone named Marcio. Petruchio then enters and talks with Baptista, though the scene where Hortensio tells Petruchio about Katherina is cut, thus so are the lines where Petruchio explains why he is in Padua. Biondello, in this version, is Baptista’s servant. He enters to explain that Katherina has hit her teacher with the lute. We don’t actually see the broken lute in this version. The wooing scene is left largely intact, with the jokes about asses and the “tongue in your tail.” After Petruchio says he’ll marry her, the stage directions indicate she hits him again. And then “he turns her over his knee, gives her a couple of slaps” (p. 15). At the end of the scene, she slaps him again.
Biondello then addresses the audience, stepping out of the play to remark on it: “Now, in those days, a father’s authority prevailed even over a shrewish daughter, so on the next Sunday, in spite of Katherina’s violent protests, she and Petruchio were married” (p. 17). There is nothing about Petruchio arriving late for the wedding, nor anything about his clothing or misbehavior during the ceremony. In fact, Baptista says, “’twas a beautiful ceremony” (p. 17). Oddly, two people entreat Petruchio to stay before Katherina does and yet when Katherina does entreat him, she fails to actually use the word “entreat.” Why cut the third “entreat”? After all, that’s what the other two were leading to; it’s the third one that provides the punch. Instead, Katherina simply says, “Now, if you love me, stay” (p. 18).
In this adaptation  there is a character named Grumella, Petruchio’s housekeeper. Her presence changes the feel of Petruchio’s abode, because now Katherina has a female servant to confide in. And Grumella gives her advice on how to behave, instead of Katherina figuring it out on her own. Though the Tailor and Haberdasher are cut, the business with the hat is still included.
A scroll is sent to them letting them know of Bianca’s marriage to Lucentio and Hortensio’s marriage to a woman named Maria. During the sun/moon bit, Katherina says, “The sun and moon change even as your mind” (p. 24), which makes sense, but lacks that extra joke present in the original line, “And the moon changes even as your mind.”
The wager happens, but without the earlier words exchanged between Katherina and Hortensio’s wife. At the end, Petruchio shares his winnings with Katherina, and bids her to go shopping.
This book was published in 1969.

- The Taming Of Lola: A Shrew Story  by Ellen Weiss; illustrated by Jerry Smath  -  Obviously the title of this children’s book is a cute reference to the play, and also a joke on “a true story.” On the title page it says, “A Picture Book in Five Acts.” And there is a framing device, like the Induction in The Taming Of The Shrew. In this book, the main story is told by a grandmother to her grandchild. So the book opens with the grandmother settling down to tell the story. Act I introduces Lola, a shrew famous for her temper. She has many brothers and sisters, not just the one sister. Lola begins getting her own way. In Act II, her cousin Lester arrives, and his temper is a match for hers. She hates him immediately. The two begin screaming at each other, neither giving in. In Act III, Lester demands Lola’s bed, and is given it by Lola’s father. Lola and Lester fight about this, both ending up falling asleep on the floor. In Act IV, Lola and Lester start arguing again and insulting each other. They’re so busy they don’t notice that Lola’s entire family has left to go on a picnic. As it gets dark, Lola becomes hungry. Lester keeps yelling, but Lola gets quiet. And then she tells him they’ve been arguing so much they missed the picnic and their throats are sore, so they should work something out. In Act V, they begin to get along. Lester leaves to go back home. After that, things are quiet in Lola’s house, with Lola no longer throwing tantrums. The book ends with the framing device, the grandmother turning out to be Lola herself.
This book was published in 2010.

- From Farce To Metadrama: A Stage History Of The Taming Of The Shrew, 1594-1983  by Tori Haring-Smith  -  This book details the history of the way The Taming Of The Shrew has been staged but in England and the United States, and includes some photographs. In the chapter on the early stage history of the play, Haring-Smith writes, regarding Shakespeare play not having the Sly epilogue: “We can assume that Shakespeare revised The Shrew after 1594, omitting the anticlimactic Epilogue and trimming the play to conform to the needs of a smaller company” (pages 7-8). Later, in that same chapter, Haring-Smith writes, regarding The Cobler of Preston: “This adaptation lacks humor, and its topical references to the rebellion of 1715 quickly dated it. Johnson prolongs the story of Sly by running through it twice – Sly moves from the alehouse to the lord’s mansion, to jail, then to his cobbler’s stall, back to the lord’s house, and finally once more to his stall. Merely repeating the plot in this way does not improve it” (p. 12). In the chapter on the early twentieth century, Haring-Smith mentions one way of handling Sly: “At the end of the Induction, Sly left the stage with the page on his arm as if the play were about to be staged in another room of the house. He was never seen again” (p. 83). Regarding modern dress Shakespeare, Haring-Smith writes: “Modern-dress Shakespeare, a movement as strong and important as Elizabethan staging, developed during the 1920s. Barry Jackson, its leader, agreed with Poel and Granville-Barker about the value of replicating for modern audiences the experience of Shakespeare’s audience at the Globe. But while Poel and his followers tried to present Shakespeare’s works as the original spectators would have seen them, Jackson and other advocates of modern dress translated the plays into contemporary idiom. This technique, it was theorized, would remove the barriers of three hundred years of social change. The first major modern-dress Shakespeare was Jackson’s Hamlet, staged at the Kingsway in 1925. Although some critics ridiculed this novel production with headlines like “Hamlet in Plus-Fours,” most who examined the production seriously thought it successful. As Jackson had hoped, the new treatment forced actors to reconsider the play, rejecting standard character interpretations and traditional stage business. In modern dress, the characters seemed to become more human, and actors delivered their lines with a more natural rhythm and emphasis. Some of the magnificence of Shakespeare’s verse was lost, but the dialogue gained meaning” (p. 112). In that same chapter, Haring-Smith writes, regarding a way of dealing with Sly at the play’s end: “Instead of being carried off, Sly fell asleep during the last act and remained in his box at the front of the orchestra, snoring, until the last member of the audience had left” (p. 115).
This book was published in 1985.

- Shrew! by Richard A. Barbie  -  Kiss Me Kate isn’t the only musical based on The Taming Of The Shrew. There is also Shrew! Many of the characters are the same as in Shakespeare’s play, but fathers become mothers in this version. Baptista has switched genders and is mother to Katherina and Bianca. Instead of Vincentio, we get Lucretia, mother to Lucentio (Tranio tells the audience that Vincentio was killed – “stuck in his olive press and squirted himself through the Pearly Gates faster than a greased pepperoni,” page 6). And so the Pedant becomes a woman as well, Fishmother. And Petruchio has a female servant, Maria, who takes the place of Curtis.
The Induction is cut. Tranio directly addresses the audience regarding Lucentio. When Katherina enters, she is smacking around a servant. Tranio at first misunderstands Lucentio, believing he is pining for Katherina not Bianca. In this version, Grumio is called Potso. Some of the “knock” business, which is often cut, is included here. Bianca is not bound in her scene with Katherina, and she does provoke Katherina to anger, and actually hits her with a mirror. It is a guitar, not a lute, that is smashed over Hortensio’s head in this version. The “tongue in your tail” bit is cut, but Petruchio pinches Katherina’s bottom after saying “My remedy, then, is to pluck it out.” After Petruchio promises to cuff her if she strikes again, Katherina slaps him, and he slaps her right back. In this version, Katherina overhears Petruchio say that everything about the meal and wine was in jest in order to tame her. She also overhears him say he loves her. And she overhears him say, “Oh, my Kate, grant that I might break away that bitter mask you use to hide from me and still not break your spirit in the bargain.” This version has taken an interpretation of Petruchio’s goals and turned it into dialogue, which is kind of weak. Worse is the fact that the writer doesn’t know the meaning of “wherefore.” He has Hortensio, while searching for Bianca, say: “Mistress? Lady Bianca? Wherefore art thou?” (p. 70). Ugh. There is no wager in this version. Bianca simply refuses to pour wine, and Petruchio offers to have Katherine do it. And she does. At the end of the book is a list of stupid sound effects to be used to hit home every joke.
This book was published in 1977.

- The Tamer Tamed  by John Fletcher  -  The Tamer Tamed is a sort of sequel to The Taming Of The Shrew. It was written by John Fletcher, possibly in 1611, though the date is uncertain. The full title is The Woman’s Prize, Or The Tamer Tamed, but the edition I read just goes by the title The Tamer Tamed. This is The Royal Shakespeare Company Production edition. Some of the character names were changed for this production, to align them more with Shakespeare’s play. For example, in Fletcher’s play, Petruchio’s servant is named Jacques, but this production uses the name Grumio. And Livia’s elder suitor is named Moroso, but this production changes him to Gremio. In the play, Katharina is dead, and Petruchio is now married to Maria, who goes about the act of taming him. Some lines of this play are direct references to The Taming Of The Shrew. For example, in Act II Scene v, Petronius (Maria’s father) says, “I had rather see her carted” (p. 39). In The Taming Of The Shrew, Gremio says, regarding Katherina, “To cart her rather.” And in Act III Scene v, Petruchio says, “For those are rarest, they are said to kill/With kindness” (p. 66). In The Taming Of The Shrew, Petruchio says, “This is a way to kill a wife with kindness.” This edition is without any annotation. This book was published in 2003.

- The Cobler Of Preston  by Charles Johnson  -  The Cobler Of Preston is an early adaptation of The Taming Of The Shrew, published in 1716. It’s actually just an adaptation of the Induction. Christopher Sly (often called Kit in this version) is a cobbler, not a tinker. Some of the lines come almost directly from Shakespeare’s play. For example, Sly says, “You are a Baggage: Look’ee, fay what you will of me, but don’t disparage my Family. The Sly’s came in with Richard the Conqueror; and so let the World slide” (p. 2). Compare that with Shakespeare’s lines, “Y’are a baggage, the Slys are no rogues. Look in the Chronicles, we came in with Richard Conqueror. Therefore paucas pallabris, let the world slide.” Instead of burst glasses, we get broken mugs in this version. In this version the Huntsman recognizes Sly when he comes upon his drunken form – “Why, Sir, this is our drunken Neighbour Kit” (p. 3). Sir Charles knows him as well, and decides to punish him. So it’s not just for fun that they play the trick on Sly in this version. They also play a prank on Charles’ drunken butler, dressing him in Sly’s clothes. In this version, it is the Chambermaid Betty who impersonates Sly’s wife, not a page, which takes away a good deal of the humor of their exchanges. Sly does identify himself as Christopher Sly at one point, but then says, “Am I not Kit Sly” (p. 13) rather than Shakespeare’s “Am I not Christopher Sly.” Like in Shakespeare’s play, it is the promise of a beautiful wife that gets Sly to begin to accept that he is a lord. A play is not performed for Sly, but there is a song and then a dance done for him. When Sly is returned to his cobbler’s stall and his wife, he is convinced that they are merely parts of his dream and that he is still a lord.
The version of this play that I read is a facsimile of the copy in the Birmingham Shakespeare Library. This facsimile was published in 1969 by Cornmarket Press.