Taming of the Shrew Actor Blog
The Taming of the Shrew with Melinda Pfundstein (Kate) and Brian Vaughn (Petruchio)
In our interview with Fred Adams, Festival founder and director of this year’s production of The Taming of the Shrew, he told us that he believes this play is a love story based on two people finding their perfect match. http://www.bard.org/news/a-chat-with-fred-adams
A month later, we chatted with the actors playing Petruchio (Brian Vaughn) and Kate (Melinda Pfundstein) to learn their thoughts.
Fred told us that this production is about a love story between your two characters…what are your thoughts?
Brian: For Petruchio it starts out as a guy who is making a deal to marry for money. He says “ if I woo her, what will I get out of this?” The game changes the minute he sees her. First, he sees her external beauty. And then there’s an awakening – it’s love at first sight.
Melinda: Petruchio and Kate are different than anybody else in their world. They recognize true partnership in each other immediately. This is a match for wit and fire and energy. There’s instant attraction on many levels.
With our modern sensibilities, many people object to the concept of “taming”…how are you addressing that?
Melinda: I don’t think there’s getting around it. It’s getting inside it. Michael Barnes, the voice and text coach, found this moment in the folio that’s not in any other version. In the big wooing scene, Petruchio says these really heart-felt words “we are a match.” You can tell that he’s fighting for her. Then the folio says, the father and others walk in and Petruchio puts on a his “public face” again. There are things like that throughout the text that tell you this is not a crushing of a woman’s will, power and individuality. I have a feeling that if this were called anything other than “Taming of the Shrew”, it wouldn’t be an issue.
Brian: I have to say I was petrified going into this show because of the stigma and solving the riddles of the text and what it means. And now that I’m inside it and we’ve talked about what this means, I think it’s a really clear examination of two people who complement one another…
Melinda: and challenge one another…
Brian: as equals…in some ways it becomes about celebrating Kate’s identity and who she is - her intelligence, wit, bravado. They call it “mad and headstrong wit” in the play and I think it’s more than that. She is that way because of the environment she’s around and it becomes about cherishing that and relishing in it. The message in there is “be that way when you need to be that way but not all the time.”
Melinda: It’s not a taming of her spirit. Shakespeare is very smart about giving her the longest speech in the play at the very end after all this has happened. He gives her a platform to raise her voice and speak her mind and her heart. I think it’s a taming of the heart – she’s angry and rightly so. She’s been pushed aside and maybe not handled it the best way. The taming part comes from taming the anger and taming her heart.
Brian: One of my favorite lines in the play is “if she and I be pleased what is that to you?” – he says it to her father and Bianca’s suitors. It’s the truth. What does our relationship have to do with anybody else? The most important thing is that there’s our connection, our spirit, our love and it’s unfair for those people to be passing judgement or calling her a shrew…what do you care?
Melinda: I think that line also speaks to relationships – we make compromises and agreements in relationships that you can’t explain. Nobody can put words to what happens and the way you come to level waters in relationships.
The Taming of the Shrew opens in preview on June 25 and plays in the Adams Theatre (evenings) and the Auditorium Theatre (matinees) through September 5. You can learn more about our production at http://www.bard.org/plays/2015/the-taming-of-the-shrew where you’ll find study guides, costume designs and director interviews.
You can purchase tickets online at www.bard.org or by calling 800-PLAYTIX.