Taming of the Shrew

Wordy Wednesday-“Kill With Kindness”

This week’s wordy Wednesday is “to kill with kindness”, uttered by Petrucio, in his speech revealing how he plans to tame Kate’s shrewish nature:

And if she chance to nod I’ll rail and brawl,

And with the clamor keep her still awake.

This is a way to kill a wife with kindness.

Taming Of The Shrew: act 4, scene 1

In this speech Petrucio is revealing how he plans to tame Kate’s shrewish nature and make her into an obedient wife. He claims that the only way to make her truly obedient and get rid of her wild and feisty nature is to kill a wife with kindness. From Petrucio’s point of view “killing with kindness” involves depriving Kate of food and sleep for a period of time, until she willingly gives in to being his obedient wife.

According to dictionary.com killing with kindness is any action that involves overwhelming someone with mistaken or excessive kindness. This expression originated as a reference to something that fond apes do to their young: crushing them to death in a hug and was a proverb by the mid 1500s.

The usage of the phrase in Taming Of The Shrew is fascinating because of its ties to the word’s origins. Petrucio is like the ape crushing its young through an ignorantly and overwhelmingly aggressive act that he claims is an act of love. The usage of ‘kill with kindness’ strays away from our traditional notions of what overwhelming an individual with mistaken or excessive kindness really is. The one question we’re left with is the following: is this an excessive and mistaken act of kindness or is it straight-forward aggression and cruelty?

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Photo Friday- Shakespeare In Action @ Nuit Blanche

Hello!

Last Saturday Shakespeare In Action did a guerrilla style performance of  scenes from three of Shakespeare’s plays: Romeo And Juliet, Taming Of The Shrew, and Midsummer Night’s Dream at King Blue Condo Presentation Centre as part of Nuit Blanche. The following are pictures I took at the final performance.

Juliet on the balcony: Romeo and Juliet Balcony scene

Juliet on the balcony: Romeo and Juliet Balcony scene

above: scene with the lovers (romeo and Juliet)

above: scene with the lovers (romeo and Juliet)

In the King Blue Condos presentation centre hallway actors perform for the audience a scene from Taming of the shrew.

In the King Blue Condos presentation centre hallway actors perform for the audience a scene from Taming of the shrew.

actor playing Romeo addresses audience

actor playing Romeo addresses audience

Romeo and Juliet opening scene transition to interior: Romeo and Juliet continue speaking while the actor in the foreground watches in the background as Puck

Romeo and Juliet opening scene transition to interior: Romeo and Juliet continue speaking while the actor in the foreground watches in the background as Puck

Romeo and Juliet balcony scene: Romeo approaches juliet

Romeo and Juliet balcony scene: Romeo approaches Juliet

sword fight scene: Shakespeare In Action Nuit Blanche Performance: King Blue Condos Presentation Centre hallway

sword fight scene: Shakespeare In Action Nuit Blanche Performance: King Blue Condos Presentation Centre hallway

Canadian Stage presents FREE Shakespeare in High Park Youth Nights – 21 and under!

Canadian Stage - Shakespeare in High Park - Youth Night
 
Love Shakespeare?  21 and under?

Join Canadian Stage for its Shakespeare in High Park Youth Nights!

Enjoy a FREE night of fun at the High Park Amphitheatre this summer, including a backstage tour, an artist-led hands-on workshop with a cast member, a pizza dinner, and a ticket to the show – either The Taming of the Shrew or Macbeth.

Please note that due to popular demand, most Youth Nights are already FULL! If the date that you wish to attend is full (indicated on the website), you may consider attending the show on an evening with a FREE backstage tour instead.

For all the details, click here. Please RSVP for Youth Nights or forward any questions you may have to youth@canadianstage.com. Youth Night spots are reserved on a first-come-first-serve basis so make sure to RSVP as soon as possible!
 
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YOUTH NIGHTS:

Wednesday, August 7, 2013 – Macbeth – 5:30pm
Thursday, August 15, 2013 – Taming of the Shrew – 5:30pm

The Past and the Present: Shakespeare on the Big Screen

Image: ClipArt ETC Chandler B. Beach The New Student's Reference Work for Teachers Students and Families (Chicago, IL: F. E. Compton and Company, 1909)

Image: ClipArt ETC
Chandler B. Beach The New Student’s Reference Work for Teachers Students and Families (Chicago, IL: F. E. Compton and Company, 1909)

 

Would William Shakespeare have pictured Hamlet as a lion cub? Or imagined Othello as a high school basketball player?

It’s impossible to say how Shakespeare would react to seeing adaptations of his most famous characters in modern times. There is no dispute that his plays remain a popular source of inspiration for movies. These aren’t limited to direct adaptations. Many characters, stories and themes penned by him have been transferred to a modern setting on multiple occasions.

West Side Story (1963)

Romeo and Juliet is brought to 20th-century New York and the star-crossed lovers are re-imagined as Tony and Maria. Maria is the sister of a Puerto Rican gangster while Tony is affiliated with a rival gang. The Jets and Sharks take the place of the Capulets and Montagues. While Tony mirrors Romeo’s untimely death, Maria diverges from following Juliet’s end. Instead of committing suicide, Maria uses Tony’s death to end the fighting between the Jets and the Sharks.

Ten Things I Hate About You (1999)

Taming of the Shrew goes to high school in this adaptation of the famous Shakespeare comedy. The theme of finding a husband and shaming a shrewish woman into submission changed to dating among teenagers and being true to yourself. The plot mirrors Shakespeare’s original play as it focuses on Bianca’s attempt to find someone to date her older sister Kat since her father has made a rule preventing her from dating until Kat does.

O (2001)

This modern version of Othello turns the protagonist into Odin, the captain of his high school basketball team. Desdemona becomes his girlfriend Desi. Iago becomes Hugo, Odin’s treacherous teammate. The English Journal noted that Hugo’s actions in spreading rumors of Desi’s infidelity to Odin cause him to spiral out of control in school and on the court — in the same manner Iago affected Othello. Both characters become overwhelmed by their desire to inflict physical violence based on a false rumor.

 

By Scott Grayson

 

To learn more about the Shakespeare connections in The Lion King (1993), click here.

For She’s The Man (2006), click here.

And for Romeo & Juliet through the ages, click here.

Wordy Wednesday – “Kill with kindness”

Image

“Another way I have to man my haggard,
To make her come, and know her keeper’s call,
That is, to watch her, as we watch these kites
That bate and beat, and will not be obedient. 

[…]
This is a way to 
kill a wife with kindness,
And thus I’ll curb her mad and headstrong humour.
He that knows better how to tame a shrew,
Now let him speak; ’tis charity to show.” 

-William Shakespeare (1564-1616)

———————————————————————–

“You’ve gotta be

Cruel to be kind in the right measure,
Cruel to be kind, it’s a very good sign.
Cruel to be kind means that I love you,
Baby, you’ve gotta be cruel to be kind…”
-Nick Lowe (1949-)

———————————————————————–

The first quote comes from Shakespeare’s The Taming of the Shrew, which is considered a “problem play” – it’s structured like a comedy, but the ‘happy ending’ we are led towards is a fierce, independent woman being tortured and ‘tamed’ by her husband in an arranged marriage. In this scene, the husband (Petruchio) describes starving his wife and depriving her of sleep until she is too broken down to resist him. The ‘kindness’ should be read very ironically; he does everything but beat her into submission.

If this is an inherently amusing idea to you, I’d love to ask you about the time machine you clearly rode here from another century.

The second quote comes from a modern(ish) pop song and is there because, funnily enough, however, when people refer to ‘killing someone with kindness’ nowadays the meaning is drastically different. Rather than constantly spying upon someone and controlling them, ‘killing someone with kindness’ refers to being extraordinarily generous and flattering towards them.

The idea is to be so unrealistically nice to the person that they get sceptical and start to wonder what you’re up to. It can be hard to shake our cultural cliche that there’s no compliment or benefit without a catch. The ‘kill’ part of ‘kill with kindness’ comes from making that suspicious person lose their mind with paranoia, waiting to figure out a ‘hidden agenda’ that never actually shows up.

We shouldn’t feel too bad about our society though; in Shakespeare’s day Petruchio is considered a hero who ‘wins’ by making his wife “asham’d that women are so simple / To offer war where they should kneel for peace” (V.ii.2669-70). Our society may be cynical and suspicious, but at least its women have made some strides towards being allowed by society to defend their own corner – so that they don’t have to feel like they’re being killed anyway, with kindness or without.

–David Windrim

Wordy Wednesday – “I’ll not budge an inch…”

In the Prologue to Taming of the Shrew, a drunken Christopher Sly loiters outside a tavern.

He has broken some glasses and the Hostess demands that he pay for the damage.

Sly refuses to pay and the Hostess leaves to search for a policeman.  Sly calls after her:

I’ll answer him by law: I’ll not budge an inch, boy: let him come, and kindly.

When someone refuses to budge an inch, he or she refuses to move physically or mentally (i.e. to change his or her opinion).  Sly falls asleep on the spot so, in this case, he won’t budge an inch in any way whatsoever!

Wordy Wednesday – “Break the ice”

Today’s phrase is break the ice from The Taming of the Shrew, Act 1, Scene 2:

PETRUCHIO:  Sir, understand you this of me, in sooth:
The youngest daughter, whom you hearken for,
Her father keeps from all access of suitors,
And will not promise her to any man
Until the elder sister first be wed.
The younger then is free, and not before.

TRANIO:  If it be so, sir, that you are the man
Must stead us all, and me amongst the rest;
And if you break the ice, and do this feat,
Achieve the elder, set the younger free
For our access- whose hap shall be to have her
Will not so graceless be to be ingrate.

In this play, a man named Baptista has two daughters.  Bianca, the younger sister, has a couple men in love with her, but her father will not allow her to marry until his eldest daughter marries.  Katherina, the older sister, is sharp-tongued at best.  She is like ice – cold and hard to “crack” (it’s hard to reach her heart).  Petruchio makes it his mission to break the ice – to woo her and wed her.  And he succeeds.

Even now, this is a common phrase.  You know when you meet someone for the first time and there’s that awkward moment when you’re standing there, and the other person is standing there, and you’re both just standing there wondering what to say or do.  Then one person smiles, or says “Hello,” or sticks out a hand, or comments on the guy in the gorilla suit who just walked past – that person breaks the ice and make it easier for both people to move forwards in friendship, or, in the case of Katherina and Petruchio, as a couple.

So next time you find yourself in that situation, go ahead and break the ice!

break the ice