MC Theatre Department presents "Taming of the Shrew" April 7-10

March 17, 2011
Contact: Chloe Kennedy, News and New Media Writer

The Maryville College Theatre Department will present William Shakespeare’s “Taming of the Shrew” April 7-10 at the Clayton Center for the Arts.

“The Taming of the Shrew” is one of Shakespeare’s earliest, most farcical and funniest plays. Katherine, the shrew of the title, is an angry, scolding, abusive young woman, for whom her father cannot find a husband. Until he does, he will not let his younger daughter, the sweet and simpering Bianca, marry any of her many suitors. Petruchio comes to town and decides to wed the shrew for the money he will get and then sets about to make her docile and pliable.

Performances are scheduled for 8 p.m. April 7-9 and 2 p.m. on April 10 in the Clayton Center for the Arts’ Haslam Family Flex Theatre.

Tickets, which are available at the Clayton Center Box Office, are $10 for adults and $7 for seniors (ages 60 and older), MC faculty and staff, theatre alumni, area students (under 18) and college students with identification. MC students are admitted free.

The production is co-directed by Robert Hutchens, executive director of the Clayton Center for the Arts, and Heather McMahon, associate professor of theatre at Maryville College.

Hutchens said the play has been controversial since its first production “because a strong, though unpleasant woman, does a complete capitulation and appears to be betraying her sex.”

“Throughout the centuries, actors and directors have had to deal with Katherine’s seeming subservience to her lord and master,” Hutchens said. “The Maryville College production has had to grapple with the issue as well and has come up with different take than any of the usual ones.”

Katherine will be played by Caitlin Campbell of Maryville, Tenn., and Bianca will be played by Mary Moates of Etowah, Tenn. Walker Harrison of Loudon, Tenn., will play Petruchio.

The cast also includes Rachel Jarnigan of Knoxville, Tenn., as Grumio; Patrick Dalton of Greeneville, Tenn., as the Pedant; Kacey Whitteaker of Maryville, Tenn., as Gremio; John Cole Kirksey of Greenville, Miss., as the Tailor and as Peter; Ryan Vaughan of Loveland, Ohio, as Vincentio; Sam Turpen of Birmingham, Ala., as Joseph and Peter; JP Speir of Maryville, Tenn., as Tranio; Christopher Bowen of Maryville, Tenn., as Baptista; Kegan Rinard of New Market, Tenn., as Hortensio; Hayden Brown of Boone, N.C., as Lucentio; Joe McBrien of Vienna, Va., as Biondello; Kristen Sharp of Hermitage, Tenn., as the Widow and as Nathaniel; and Carrington Cline of Gallatin, Tenn., as Bianca’s nurse, Curtis and Philip.

Leslie Owle of Sevierville, Tenn., is the production’s stage manager, and Alan Reihl is the technical director.

“The actors are very much engaged in the comedy of the play as well as how the character of each is instrumental in shaping the pivotal relationship between Katherine and Petruchio,” Hutchens said. “It is not just a play about the sexual dynamic between a husband and wife, it is a depiction of a social order in which marriage is economical and political … and somehow funny in the bargain.”

Ten students are enrolled in this semester’s Theatre 343: Practicum in Theatre. The course is a two-part workshop that offers intensive training taught by two local theatre professionals, Steve Fitchpatrick and Charles Miller.

The first part of the workshop, taught by Fitchpatrick, consists of nine sessions that focus on analyzing and performing Shakespeare’s language and characters through in-class exercises and scene work. The second part of the workshop, taught by Miller, consists of four sessions that focus on basic stage combat.

McMahon came up with the idea for the course.

“I have been working lately to get more guest artists and directors into the program,” McMahon said. “I want my students to have more time with professionals so that they get more experience, another perspective, another method – basically, I want them exposed to theatre artists other than me so that they are well-trained.”

McMahon said most of the students in the class are also in the upcoming production of “Taming of the Shrew.”

“On a practical level, I wanted to help the theatre majors in the show get some more training with the language,” McMahon said. “And the theatre majors are always interested in stage combat. Even though there won’t be any in this show, it is always fun.”

Fitchpatrick, who has spent the last 30 years acting, is a full-time lecturer at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, and also teaches courses at Pellissippi State Community College. This is the second workshop he’s taught at Maryville College.

“Shakespeare is a foreign language,” Fitchpatrick said. “How do you translate a foreign language and make it so the audience is going to understand it? It’s about getting deep enough into the script that it makes sense to the actor. How do you carry that on stage? Being an actor is like playing an instrument – and that instrument is you.”

Maryville College is ideally situated in Maryville, Tenn., between the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and Knoxville, the state's third largest city. Founded in 1819, it is the 12th oldest institution of higher learning in the South and maintains an affiliation with the Presbyterian Church (USA). Known for offering its students a rigorous and highly personal experience that includes an undergraduate research requirement, Maryville College is a nationally ranked institution of higher learning that successfully joins the liberal arts and professional preparation. Total enrollment for the fall 2016 semester is 1,198.