The Taming of the Shrew, or Mussolini, Kate’s Part in His Downfall

Written by:

Kathleen McCreery

Cast Size:
17

Roles For:

  • Men: 7
  • Women: 10

Genre:

Adaptation
Comedy

Themes:

Fascism
Feminism
Politics
Religion
Revolution
Shakespeare
War

Length:

120 min.

Year Written:

1987

Synopsis:

‘The theatre was the people’s spoken, dramatised newspaper.’ – Dario Fo in ‘Mistero Buffo’.

Travelling players in 1935 fascist Italy present their controversial version of Shakespeare’s play. Fast moving and very physical, this radical rewrite makes use of commedia, farce, puppets, and includes a dream sequence in which Bianca portrays a range of female archetypes. Both sisters go through profound changes. In a surprising twist, Kate’s last speech, a radio broadcast, turns into a moving challenge to her husband Petruchio/Mussolini’s oppressive personal and political rule.

The play was commissioned by Avon Touring for a company of 4 versatile actors. A large cast version of the play was produced by Newcastle Polytechnic (now the University of Northumbria) Drama students.

Characters:

Tranio – enterprising servant
Baptista – captain of industry
Grumio – Petruchio’s henchman
Lucentio – suitor to Bianca
Petruchio – the Leader
A baker
Marietta – young girl
A peasant
Bianca – a restless heiress
The Pope
Miss Curtis – a reporter
Signora Tellini – dressmaker
Vincentia – Lucentio’s mother
A worker
Rosalia – a peasant
Katherine – a revolutionary
Gremio and Hortensio – a parliamentary pair

First Produced:

Avon Touring Theatre Company, Bristol, UK. National tour.

Resources:

The play can be accessed by emailing the playwright at kath@kathmc.com or by visiting their website

Notes:

Please note: Casting for the original production included people of colour, women playing men, etc.