After a typical PellaMonday, I headed into the city for the first cast meeting and group read of “The Taming of the Shrew,” my outdoor summer Shakespeare project. I’ve worked with many of these people before, both in “Much Ado About Nothing” two summers ago, as well as in other projects around the city. So to sit down around the table with everyone and hear the words come to life was very exciting. People brought their A game to the reading, and we were cracking each other up all the way through the show. It’s going to be a good performance, although the challenge is going to be finding a way to make the characters both broad enough to be funny and sincere enough to be engaging. I didn’t get the chance to do the homework and preparation that I wanted to, but I did have a chance to at least read over the script before I went to the reading. (I did not have that opportunity with TMS. The first time I read that script was during the initial read-through.)
With the role of Lucentio, I am again playing the “clean-cut, earnest young man” who ends up with the girl at the end. I’m making a career out of the Shakespearean straight men, since everyone else around me gets all the laughs. But this show is very subversive; I think there is the chance to make Lucentio a little something more. He is not really the most intelligent character in the show, and others consistently lead him around. So I think there is an opportunity to play up those qualities, as opposed to making him just a standard leading man. Part of his humor also comes from the fact that in his first speech, he speaks lofty ideas about studying virtue, and then three pages later he is trying to figure out how to get laid.
The show is set in the 1950s, and Damon, our director, said that he wanted to dig and find those moments in which this show connects to the 1950s. We will strive to make the setting feel like an integral part of the show, not just a concept that we have imposed upon the script. And I’m excited about that idea, because Damon and I share senses of humor. Lucentio spends a lot of time on stage without saying anything, so maybe we can fill some of that silence with little bits of humor. I’m excited for this project, and even excited to sit down with the script and do the homework on the text that I need to. It’s going to be a fun summer.