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Shelly Gaza, Taming of the Shrew Tour Director

Shelly Gaza returns to the Festival to direct the Educational Tour production of The Taming of the Shrew. We last saw Shelly here in 2007; she played Viola in Twelfth Night and Cordelia in King Lear. Since then, she’s settled in Colorado where she is on faculty at Northern Colorado University, teaching voice, speech and Shakespeare.

Is this your first time directing?

It’s not my first time directing but it is my first time directing for USF which I’m really excited about. I have done some directing in Minnesota and Colorado and I just finished directing As You Like It for UNC this past fall. I do focus mostly on Shakespeare, which I love.

What’s your experience with Shrew?

I was an actor in the Educational Tour in ‘05 and we did Shrew. I played Kate. It was just an accident that this is the one I’m directing and it’s a happy accident. It’s fun to come back to the show.

How do you cut the script to allow for an acting company of seven?

I made some adjustments; we refigured the casting doubling. We’re doing something I’m really excited about. The 4 lovers (Petruchio and Kate, Bianca and Lucentio) play only those characters throughout. And we have 3 actors who play what we’re calling “The Zanies.” They are splitting up every other character in the show.

Can you describe the production?

We have combined different periods and genres. The concept was developed with the help of Christina Leinicke (Costume Designer). The ideas she presented really pushed me toward the direction I was kind of flirting with. We drew our inspiration from three worlds: circus, commedia dell’arte and a gypsy carnival. We’re really creating our own look, period and style. Colorful, exuberant, musical. Those are the three worlds.

How will you make Shrew relevant for this audience?

It’s certainly a challenge. I think it’s safe to say that it did have misogynistic overtones when it was written. It was a different time and gender roles were very different. I think it’s ok to cut Shakespeare some slack on that. He was writing for his time.

In order to make it relevant for today we have to take that into account. As far as Kate’s final speech – when you look at it on the page, the words are much more about learning to be a good life partner with someone as opposed to being a subservient wife. Mostly it’s about playing it correctly, it’s about choosing the right actors who can give it the right nuance. It’s more about compassion – teaching women and men who want to be in a loving relationship that it’s not about getting your way all the time. It’s not about being negative. It’s about humbling yourself to your partner. To me that speech could be said by Petruchio as well as Kate.

This year’s tour will play in three states (UT, NV, AZ) between January and April. You can learn more at



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