A Shrew for our times

Queensland Theatre is inviting audiences to an Italian silent film set for its highly anticipated season of Taming of the Shrew from 8 May to 5 June, led by Damien Ryan, one of Australia’s most lauded directors of Shakespeare.

Under his considered, clever direction, this production will not only speak to the ‘anger of my heart’ felt by many women in Australia right now, but also to the promise of a love that frees rather than subordinates a great woman.

In the early days of film, women were very much the stars, but fundamental to their stardom was a silencing of their voices, says multi-award-winning director and actor, Damien Ryan.

“It’s a paradoxical setting. The early 20th century was really a turning point, with the rise of the aviatrix, of suffragettes, and with the advent of talkies, a woman’s voice on celluloid — but only after she’s been tucked and squished, then smeared with make-up, to look the part of feminine beauty on camera.

“It’s within that illusion of power, within a world of playfulness and role-playing, that we are setting Taming of the Shrew and I hope to have an enormous amount of fun!”

Ryan hopes that the question in the hearts of audiences after the play will be: what would you do for love? Not just to be loved, but to give love?

“I want the experience in the Bille Brown Theatre to be of a really extraordinary love story — a messy, complex, at times disagreeable, but very funny, very moving, strangely satisfying love story. I think every successful relationship makes sense to the people who are in it. Other people’s rules and judgements don’t apply. It’s indefinable to anyone on the outside, and that holds true for Katharina (Kate) and Petruchio,” he suggests.

“I hope to find a story of a couple that will eventually just do anything for each other, absolutely selflessly anything. Not just Kate to Petruchio, but also he, entirely to her. We have a wonderful cast to interrogate that and provoke each other and challenge the story.”

Taming of the Shrew will see the role of free-spirited Kate played by Brisbane’s Anna McGahan (Hydra, Foxtel’s Picnic at Hanging Rock), matching wits against Nicholas Brown (Belvoir’s Counting and Cracking, Nine’sAmazing Grace) in his Queensland Theatre debut as the audacious, mercurial Petruchio.

They’ll be joined by local audience favourites Bryan Probets (The Holidays, Hydra), Barbara Lowing (Motherland, Belloo Creative’s Rovers), Ellen Bailey (Wisdom, Storm Boy) and Leon Cain (The 39 Steps, Shake & Stir’s Fantastic Mr Fox). For the first time on the Bille Brown stage will also be Patrick Jhanur (La Boite’s Single Asian Female), John McNeill (Shake & Stir’s Endgame), Wendy Mocke (Darlinghurst Theatre’s Jelbu Meri), David Soncin (Bell Shakespeare’s Macbeth) and Claudia Ware (Sport for Jove’s The Tempest),

Artistic Director Lee Lewis said, “I know Taming of the Shrew is complicated. Damien has said time and time again that Shakespeare wrote it to be a deliberately divisive play. But just because it’s problematic to navigate, does that mean we should put it to the back of the bookshelf?

“Artists should be brave enough to confront and own heritage works. In the right hands, with the right cast, this is a glorious play and I am eager to share Damien’s inspired, nuanced and downright hilarious interpretation of this love story with Queensland Theatre audiences.

“In this time when international travel remains impossible, Queensland Theatre is ready to sweep audiences away to Italy, if only for a night!”

TAMING OF THE SHREW by William Shakespeare

Directed by Damien Ryan
8 May to 5 June 2021
Bille Brown Theatre, South Brisbane
Bookings queenslandtheatre.com.au  |  1800 355 528  |  [email protected]

Peter J Snee

Peter is a British born creative, working in the live entertainment industry. He holds an honours degree in Performing Arts and has over 12 years combined work experience in producing, directing and managing artistic programs & events. Peter has traversed the UK, Europe and Australia pursuing his interest in theatre. He is inspired by great stories and passionately driven by pursuing opportunities to tell them.

Peter J Snee

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