UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Actors from the nationally acclaimed American Shakespeare Center (ASC) will offer a free performance of William Shakespeare’s “The Taming of the Shrew” at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 1, in Penn State’s Eisenhower Auditorium.
ASC, which has been touring the country since 1988, seeks to recover the joys and accessibility of Shakespeare’s theater, language and humanity by exploring the English Renaissance stage and its practices through performance and education. The troupe’s Blackfriars Playhouse, the world’s only recreation of Shakespeare’s indoor theater, is open for productions of classic Shakespeare plays year-round. ASC also tries to recapture the historical staging conditions of the Globe Theater in 17th-century London during its performances by using universal lighting, minimal sets, character doubling, cross-gender casting, and live music.
“The Taming of the Shrew” is much more than a comedic battle of the sexes; it also is a profound look at the necessity of play in our lives. This production includes Shakespeare's induction, which presents the Kate and Petruchio story as a play within the play. Blending romantic comedy and outlandish farce, Shakespeare gives us a love story of psychological liberation and the mysteries of being married.
“In contemporary parlance, this is a rom-com,” said director Jemma Alix Levy. “Katherine’s fight to establish herself as equal to the men around her comes wrapped in the story of what happens when we fall in love.
“This is a play about how we change ourselves for others, both by choice and unknowingly. It looks at the ways in which we all perform for each other. Shakespeare uses comedy to make us look closely at how many of the compromises we make — to fit in, to attract others, to get what we want, to find happiness — are worth it, and how many are utterly ridiculous.”
Tickets for the production can be obtained in advance by calling the Eisenhower Auditorium ticket office at 814-863-0255. In addition to the play, the evening will feature live instrumental music from 7 p.m. until the performance begins, as well as a live “talk back” between the audience and actors immediately following the performance.
Sponsors for the performance include the Penn State Department of English, the Learning Enrichment Program, State High Thespians, and the Artist Residency Club.