TAMING OF THE SHREW: Is love a thing that can be bought, packaged, and sold?
By Drew Lichtenberg, Literary Manager
[This is the final of Drew's introductions to our 2015-2016 Season in our Guide to the Season's Plays, now available.]
"Contra Shaw (an infamous bard-hater), TAMING OF THE SHREW has remained provocatively contemporary in its own right. In place of the repertories that have dominated the stage for six months in each of our past three seasons, this upcoming season features two productions inspired by SHREW, placed almost six months apart, that refract this most controversial of Shakespeare’s plays into two wildly different visions. Shakespeare, who sets his play in the mercantile fantasia of Italy, far from the hardscrabble realism of his own (and Christopher Fry’s) Warwickshire, depicts marriage purely as a transaction of property, an entirely separate realm from that of the church. As Gary Taylor—one of our most provocative thinkers on the modern meanings of Shakespeare—writes in this issue, Shakespeare was at least four centuries ahead of his time on the significance of marriage as a civil right:
That is, after all, why gay marriage has been debated in the courts. People can have sex without economic consequences, but legal matrimony affects property rights, inheritance, and tax deductions.
Shakespeare’s later, 'high' comedies are devoted almost entirely to the pleasures found in the courtship leading up to marriage. After SHREW, he only rarely attempted comedies in which the marriage happens halfway through the action. The reason perhaps is simple. He had already investigated marriage and all its discontents. His work still has much to teach us about modern marriage, if we’re willing to look it directly in the eye."
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