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“Taming of the Shrew” at Synetic Theater

Saturday night, Elly and I went down to DC to see Synetic Theater‘s “The Taming of the Shrew” with our friends Cecil and Linda (who had given Elly the tickets for her Birthday.)

“Shrew” is the latest in Synetic’s series of Shakespeare adaptations performed without words (which, to me, doesn’t make it truly Shakespeare… story line without the poetry, the words, eliminates the thing that makes Shakespeare Shakespeare.) It is performed with dance, music, incredible special effects, mime and sound effects and is incredible to watch. The best way to describe it is to shown their video promotion, which will give you an idea:

Irina Tsikurishvili plays Kate the shrew (if you’ve never seen Shakespeare’s play but have seen Kiss Me Kate, you know who the character is) under the direction of her adapter-director husband, the amazing Paata Tsikurishvili, who has created the “Silent Shakespeare Series, which has won tons of awards and never fails to sell out houses. The music, a mass of hip-hop rhythms, is by resident composer Konstantine Lortkipanidze and is stunning. It keeps the production moving for the full 90 minutes.

Tsikurishvili has set the show in “Paduawood”  and made the characters members of the contemporary fashion and arts communities. The characters of Shakespeare, Kate, her sister Bianca, their father Baptista (a fashion designer played with great humor by Hector Reynoso) and Bianca’s suitors who, as you may remember, may not marry the younger sister until Kate has a husband…something that seems highly unlikely to happen.

Irina Tsikurishvili as Kate, Ryan Sellers as Petruchio

Along comes Petruchio, a motorcycle riding painter, who accepts a large cash payment to take Kate away and make her his wife, which he does. Kate, of course, is tricked into this and her shrewishness makes her hell to be around. And that’s the point of the piece – how Petruchio tames her and makes her his true love.

The show is filled with fun, the audience laughs throughout, and Irina Tsikurishvili’s performance brings that audience to it’s feet at the end of the show.

It is brilliant.

Unfortunately, we saw the second to last performance and it is no longer open. We will, however, look forward to the next piece in the series, or to any other of the “speaking” plays that Synetic also does.

The Taming of the Shrew Adapted from the play of William Shakespeare and directed by Paata Tsikurishvili. Choreography, Irina Tsikurishvili; sets and costumes, Anastasia R. Simes; lighting, Colin K. Bills; music direction, Konstantine Lortkipanidze; multimedia, Clint Herring and RikiK; sound, Irakli Kavsadze.More info on Synetic Theater at www.synetictheater.org.

To my readers: sorry for such a late start today…

I didn’t get any sleep last night – half an hour at the most – and then I had to go in to cover for John Case on the early morning show on WSHC. When I got home around 9:45, I fell asleep for the rest of the morning until two barking dogs decided to tell me it was lunch time.

Anyway… I haven’t browsed the news yet, or figured out what is going on for the rest of the day. Tomorrow we are going to DC to see a production of The Taming Of The Shrew with our friend’s Linda and Cecil. Oh yes, I’ll still be doing the Saturday morning radio show, but we’re on the sports-related short schedule tomorrow, so the show will be from 1o – 11 AM.

If I can get to bed early tonight I’ll be all ready for WSHC… and this blog… in the morning as usual.

Was Shakespeare a Woman?

This is of interest to me  and has been over the years… who actually wrote Shakespeare’s plays? At Northwestern in the sixties, we would sit around in the  school snack bar and argue bits and pieces from the things we were reading in Theatre History classes and Shakespearian Play classes and these discussions were mostly fun and rarely convincing.

Like most of the Theatre Community, we always got back to the majority belief that Shakespeare wrote Shakespeare and, anyway, what does it really matter? We have the plays and for around 420 years they have been studied, performed, debated and loved like the works of no other playwright before or since.

This morning, however, as I did my morning shuffle through blogs and websites, I checked into seeing what was in Toronto’s Globe and Mail (actually I was looking for a Canadian comment on the election in Massachusetts) and found the article on whether Shakespeare might have actually been Amelia Bassano Lanier, a converso (clandestine Jew) and the illegitimate daughter of an Italian-born, Elizabethan court musician.

Michael Posner, who wrote the article, cites John Hudson’s 5000 word essay in The Oxfordian, from Oxford University Press (the 18 page document may be downloaded from Scribd …which in itself is worth a visit if you are interested in sharing interesting manuscripts… in pdf format for your computer) which makes a well-documented case for the highly educated, world-traveled Amelia, who might also have been “The Dark Lady Of The Sonnets” – and may even have written those sonnets under Shakespeare’s name.

This clip from Posner’s article lays out a big chunk of Hudson’s proof:

Similarly, it makes no obvious sense that there should be spoken Hebrew in Shakespeare’s plays. No Jews lived openly in Elizabethan England – even clandestinely, the community did not number more than 200. Only a small fraction of those could read the language. The likelihood that Shakespeare himself knew it is nil. Yet Mr. Hudson says that scholars have identified dozens of transliterations of Hebrew words in the Shakespearean canon, as well as quotations from the Talmud and allusions to the Mishnah.

Finally, he asks, why would a man whose works portray well-educated, proto-feminist women raise his own daughters as illiterates, as Shakespeare did? Bassano, on the other hand, made feminist history when she became the first English woman to publish a book of original poetry – the 3,000-line Salve Deus Rex Judaeorum (Hail God, King of the Jews), a satire sometimes known as “Eve’s Apology,” published in 1611.

Mr. Hudson has found connections between that book and the plays, in their biblical allusions and, he argues, their common references to the late medieval writings of French lawyer Christine de Pisan. He also contends that both the poem and the plays contain vengeful parodies of Christian thought.

Hudson’s article, which I won’t reproduce here, is dense and loaded with much more information. Hudson has also sent comment mailings which are posted at the end of Posner’s article.

If you are interested in having a great read and something to debate with your Theatre or English Lit friends, then take a look at these two pieces and have a ball.

Me… I’m going back to my reading….

UPDATE: If you check the Comments you will find that John Hudson has posted a video of a portion of a lecture he gave at Eastern Connecticut State University on the published study on Amelia Bassano Lanier,