June 18, 2013
A Director’s Vision
Hi, Gary Armagnac here. I’m directing The Taming of the Shrew for Livermore Shakespeare Festival this summer. I thought I’d share some of my thoughts about the play and this particular production via this blog.
First of all, I’m very excited to be returning to LSF to work on this project. My last experience here was in 2010 when I directed Romeo and Juliet, and I had one of the most rewarding and enjoyable experiences of my career. Artistic Director Lisa Tromovitch and her team created an extraordinarily relaxed, focused, and disciplined (read organized) environment. Everyone was more than willing to “go the extra mile.” LSF is a great place to work. And I’m not the only one who thinks so; have you ever noticed how many of the same actors, designers, technicians, and staff return year after year? There’s a reason for that…….
Now, what the hell am I going to do with The Taming of the Shrew? I first engaged with this play in 1978 in an off-off Broadway production in New York. I played Biondello (and probably not very well). Since then I’ve been fortunate enough to be involved in other productions. This play is most famous for creating controversy around two main points: the title and the way that Katherina is treated in the text. There are those who argue that the play is anti-woman and there are those who argue that, given the time and place in which the play was written, the play lays out a description of what makes a happy marriage.
I think both those viewpoints are major distractions to staging this play in 2013. I think the play is a romantic comedy, albeit a romantic comedy that has just a bit more depth and breadth than Bringing Up Baby (one of my all time favorite films!).
I have chosen to set the play in 1945 at the end of World War II. The boys are coming home from the war and most of them have one thing on their mind: getting married and settling down. OK, that’s two things. Anyway, they have been through the horrible experience of war and it is now time to get on with life, and with creating new life.
The women have been doing their bit for the war effort on the home front, filling in for the men in the mills and the factories. They have discovered new ways to be creative and new ways to live…….in the roles that had been played by men.
Where do the women fit in the post war world? Where do the men fit?