Feb. 25-April 7
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When Rachel Rockwell sat down to adapt William Shakespeare's
"The Taming of the Shrew," she asked, "What's the essential story
here?" After all, this classic comedy has been interpreted on
stage, on film and even as a musical.
Her 75-minute abridged version of the show, "Short Shakespeare!
The Taming of the Shrew," includes the famously misunderstood
sisters Kate and Bianca, as well as their suitors, but less
excessive poetic language and fewer side stories. And while the
actors may wear familiar Elizabethan pumpkin pants and corseted
gowns, a contemporary rock and roll score sets the emotional
"My goal is to make these characters relatable to today's young
people. I see Kate as a young girl trapped in the self-fulfilling
prophecy of being unlovable. Only Petruchio doesn't give in to it,"
With the story stripped down, audiences don't get bogged down by
poetry or a million sub-plots. Of course, many of the supporting
"After all, what are these suitors but a bunch of frat boys?"
Rockwell says. "And Kate's sister Bianca is that girl we all know
who manipulates everyone while still seeming sweet and
These themes and relationships are especially resonant for
today's teens, which is why the play is recommended for ages 10 and
up. While the play's central pretext of marriage as a business
transaction may have changed, the issues of identity, first love
and sexuality are timeless. Plus, it's really funny.
If you're still nervous about the very idea of Shakespeare, the
preshow talk should reassure you.
"We always advise that audiences allow the language to wash over
them like music," Rockwell says. Don't worry about the individual
words so much as the tone and emotion you feel.
Part of Chicago Shakespeare Theatre's Family Series, the play is
a great way to meet the Bard.
Alena Murguia lives in Berwyn, Illinois along with her husband and three growing sons.
See more of Alena's stories here.
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