Learning Lines

Rehearsing The Taming of the Shrew

January 31, 2014

Rehearsals for our new touring production First Encounter: The Taming of The Shrew are now well under way so we thought you might like a peek behind-the-scenes at the process of putting on a production devised primarily for 8-13 year olds.

We asked Rebecca Frecknall, Assistant Director on the show, to write a post for Learning Lines.

We're well into our third week of rehearsals now and the play is beginning to come together. One of our main focuses up to this point has been clarity of storytelling; how do you guide a group of young people though this complex story in the clearest possible way whilst allowing for the nuances of the world and the characters to be freely explored by the actors?

The company in rehearsals for The Taming Of The ShrewMichael's edit (Michael Fentiman is the show's director) has created a new swiftness to the events of the play and the cast have been negotiating their way from location to location, exploring how their characters make such extreme decisions in the moment of playing.

Keeping it simple
By editing the original play into this shorter form, we've discovered a simplicity of storytelling as the main plot lines of the piece are much tighter and more condensed. There's also an interesting balance that has been found between the characters of Kate and Petruchio in this condensed time, which frames them more equally in the play than perhaps they are in Shakespeare's original text.

It will be an interesting first introduction to the play for those who don't know it or perhaps have read it but never seen it performed . We're aiming, through discovering this balance between the characters, to allow the gender politics of the text to fade into the background, focusing instead on the people at the heart of the characters.

A trunk full of Shakespeare
As the production is touring into both schools and theatres, we're attempting to create a fluid theatrical language that frames the production in a way that is both accessible and enjoyable.

By using the fact that the company will effectively be a traveling group of players, the world of the production has been created using multiple trunks and cases which are filled with the props and costumes needed to tell the story.

This idea is providing us with the possibilities for travel, dress-up and disguise that run through the play, whilst declaring the theatricality of the storytelling, something that all the actors remember being particularly magical when they were children.

The rehearsal room so far has been a real place of exploration (and a lot of laughter!) where everybody has been bringing ideas for how to bring the text alive. There's an energy to this story that we're really tapping into and that we hope the young people will find funny, engaging and exciting.

First Encounter: The Taming of the Shrew will tour for six weeks in February and March 2014 opening at the RSC's Courtyard Theatre in Stratford-upon-Avon before visiting schools and theatres across Canterbury, Bradford, Blackpool, Leicester, London, Newcastle-under-Lyme and ending its run in the US at The Ohio State University.

The production is directed by Michael Fentiman and includes an introduction into the world of the play as well as a chance for students and teachers to discuss their responses to the play with the actors following the show.

Find out more and buy your ticket .

Photo of the company in rehearsal by Simon Anand.

by Guest blogger  |  1 comment

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Feb 3, 10:01am

Wish you all of you the very best and have a great show.

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Teaching Shakespeare