The modern production of "The Taming of the Shrew"

Essay by allythegr8College, Undergraduate March 2003

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The modern production of "The Taming of the Shrew" I saw was at the Salisbury Playhouse. They had decided to set the production in the middle east, and due to the fact they had not changed the script, this setting was conveyed entirely by the set, props and costume.

They use a rake stage with pillars along the back, and the set was painted with sandy colours and lit with strong white light to connote the blazing heat. The costumes were typically Arabic, long, flowing and white, and the few props used were pots, cushions and candles, in keeping with the theme.

An original Elizabethan production would have had none of these features; The actors would perform on a blank stage, in daylight, as no artificial light was available. Elizabethan theatre relied on the script alone to set the scene, which is why much of Shakespeare's writing is dedicated to elaborate creation of place.

I would argue that the title statement is untrue, with specific relation to Shakespearian work. The modern production merely put the play into a context that the modern audience could understand; Muslim society contains a lot of the social norms that need to be in place I order for this play to work. This was a positive and useful thing, as it also made the audience re-evaluate their views on the culture in keeping with the interpretation of the ending. However, I think that this was only necessary because it was being played to a modern audience. Elizabethan audiences would have lived in a society in which "The Taming of the Shrew" would have made total sense, Kate needed to be tamed, and Petruchio tamed her.

The more elaborate stage was useful to convey character relationships; by standing at the top of...