The Tamer Tamed

by John Fletcher
Directed by Liana Olear

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Ever watched Taming of the Shrew and wished Petruchio got what he deserved? So did Shakespeare's contemporary, Fletcher, who wrote a fanfic about Petruchio's second wife.

Shakespeare’s Taming of the Shrew ends with Petruchio admired for his wife’s obedience, but in our sequel their relationship remained unhappy.  Petruchio is now widowed and looks forward to a tranquil marriage to sweet and mild Maria.   She, however, fears sharing the first wife’s fate, and is determined to obtain relationship equality and material independence by borrowing tricks from the classics and from Petruchio’s own playbook. Meanwhile, Maria’s sister Livia must avoid being married off to the old rich Moroso and find a way to wed her handsome if mercurial sweetheart Rowland.  Encouraged by mastermind Biancha, sisters wage hilarious war of the sexes to find happiness.

From the director:

This Valentine’s weekend I wanted a light-hearted romantic comedy that brought its characters closer and led them to growing into their relationships. As we all miss gathering in person, multitudes of Zoom-based plays have used remotely staged, screen-based theater to explore the themes of isolation and non-communication, but I have always felt that virtual interactions bring me closer to my friends, the medium providing opportunities to connect despite obstacles.

Enter Fletcher's The Tamer Tamed, a 1600s “fan-fiction” sequel to Shakespeare’s Taming of the Shrew, with Petruchio’s second wife Maria turning the tables on the tamer.  But where Petruchio’s taming tactics are deeply uncomfortable, humiliating and gaslighting his first bride into submission by exercising his ability to control her circumstances, flipping the gender changes the dynamics and the tone.  In a society still dominated by men, Maria’s goals are equality and respect, and her taming tools include her autonomy and her domestic role as the household caregiver.   From a Lysistrata-style sex strike taking over the whole city to witty responses to Petruchio’s attempts to gain the upper hand, the battle of the sexes is staged from a place of some mutual fondness despite the exasperation, its skirmishes are far more playfully whimsical, and each surrender of territory brings the couple closer. And, just as importantly, the characters are surrounded and supported by their community, and we hope our audiences join us in celebrating the ways theater and technology bring us together.