Shakespeare Uncovered (2012–…): Season 2, Episode 3 - The Taming of the Shrew with Morgan Freeman - full transcript

Morgan Freeman discusses William Shakespeare's The Taming of the Shrew with Tracey Ullman, Sinead Cusack and Julia Stiles.

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16th-century England
and the American Old West

had a lot more in common
than you might think,

and Shakespeare's
"Taming of the Shrew"

is the story of a grizzled
war vet looking for his fortune,

looking for a strong
woman to call his own.

I've always seen it as
a kind of country tale,

and that's exactly how
we played it back in 1990.

Here.



Aah! Aah!

It was like a rom-com
of the Tudor era.

But it's also a
play with problems.

It's not called "The
Courting of the Shrew."

It's not called "The
Wooing of the Shrew."

At the center is a man

completely trying to overtake
and dominate a woman.

So is this play
sexist or subversive?

I think "The Taming
of the Shrew"

is my favorite Shakespeare play.

You don't often hear
a woman say that.

It's one of the plays I
get really excited about.

Ha ha ha!

Aah!



I discovered that it
was about true love.

Well, that's what makes
"Taming of the Shrew" so sexy.

Controversial it may be,

but by my reckoning,

it's Shakespeare's
most compelling comedy.

You may not know it,
but you've been watching

"The Taming of the
Shrew" for years.

This is a story about a man

and a woman who fight each other

right up until the moment
they realize they're in love...

There's death a dozen
times over down the river.

You promised.

Well I'm taking my promise back!

And, in a way, every
Hollywood screwball comedy

is a version of "The
Taming of the Shrew."

You might say Hollywood has
this play pumping through its veins.

This is a town that has grown
up around show business,

grown up around stories
of men and women

played by some of the
greatest actors who ever lived.

We owe pretty much all of this

to the legacy left to us

by a playwright who
lived 400 years ago...

Mr. William Shakespeare.

Shakespeare's start in
life wasn't unlike my own.

I grew up here in
rural Mississippi,

and Will was a country boy, too,

and, like me,

William Shakespeare felt
the pull of the big city lights.

Shakespeare was leaving
a small town in rural England

for the big city of London
with a very big ambition...

To become an actor
and perhaps a writer,

and I can certainly
identify with that...

and, like all people
in show business,

Shakespeare
started at the bottom.

As it happens,
there's an old story

that when Shakespeare
finally did get to London,

his first job was taking
care of the horses

of wealthy theatergoers.

So he was sort of an
early valet parking boy...

Ha ha ha!

And when Shakespeare
arrived in London around 1590,

it was the Hollywood of its day.

In the late 1500s, the
business of professional theater

was relatively new, and
London was its center,

just like this town is the
center of the movie business.

In Elizabethan London, a
brand-new theater industry

had been created,
and the names of actors

and writers were becoming
famous for the first time...

and Will,

talking about Shakespeare,
wanted to make...

Well, he came into
that as an outsider,

but he wanted to make
a name for himself.

So right from the beginning,

Shakespeare needed
to make an impression.

"The Taming of the Shrew"
is one of Shakespeare's

very earliest plays,
possibly his very first.

It's as if Shakespeare
comes along and says,

"I'm going to give you
something different.

"This is closer to
your experience,"

the experience of
the ordinary playgoer

who pays a penny to stand
and laugh at the action.

"The Taming of the Shrew" begins

with an ordinary
man center stage,

but even if you know the play,

this opening scene
is a bit of a surprise.

Yeah. This is...

This is how the
play really starts,

though most productions
don't even bother with it.

This is the Globe, and they
seem to be having a highball.

Sir, excuse me.

It all begins with a character

called Christopher Sly,
who looks like he's wandered

out of the local pub
and onto the stage.

It's living theater,
so to speak.

Ha ha ha!

When Sly passes out
drunk, he's discovered

by a group of aristocrats who
decide to play a prank on him.

I'm not touching him.

Oh, he's thrown up.

They take Sly to a big house

and trick him into thinking
he's the lord of the manor.

What, would you make me mad?

Am not I Christopher Sly?

No. No.

Ask Marian Hacket.

Shakespeare was mocked
as a provincial writer,

a writer from Middle England
who didn't go to university,

and it's as if he's
almost celebrating that

at the beginning of the play...

Am I a lord? Yes.

Am I?

Yes!

And there's a real
sense that at some level,

Christopher Sly, the
ordinary working man,

is a kind of representative
of Shakespeare himself.

And for his evening's
entertainment,

there will be a play,

the play we know as
"The Taming of the Shrew."

A play?

Oh, brave.

Be they my players?

Yes, my lord.

Is there not a fool in the play?

Aye, my lord.

Fabulous.

Well, let them play it.

So "The Shrew" is
really a play within a play

put on as a joke entirely at
Christopher Sly's expense.

So once the play is under way,

I mean, it's a
fairly simply story.

Man has two daughters.

One is young and beautiful,
everything a man wants,

and the other one
is a pain in the butt.

Profit you in what you read?

The youngest
daughter, Bianca, well,

she's a kind of
Tudor Barbie doll...

You know, she's got
a voice like an angel,

and she's beautiful,
and, you know,

she is the ideal
Elizabethan woman.

She's silent, and she's
chaste, and she's beautiful.

And the eldest daughter,
the fiery Catherine,

well, she's Bianca's
exact opposite.

What?

Predictably, all of Padua

wants to marry
the angelic Bianca.

The only problem is,
she won't be available

until the elder daughter
Katherine has been married off.

Those times, you couldn't
marry the younger one

before the older
one was dealt with,

and even if you could,
the father in this play

is definitely not going
to let that happen.

Importune me no farther,

for how I firmly am
resolved you know,

that is not to bestow

my youngest
daughter before I have

a husband for the elder.

If either of you
both love Katharina,

because I know you well

and love you well,
leave shall you have

to court her at your pleasure.

To cart her rather.
She's too rough for me.

There, There, Hortensio,
will you any wife?

I pray you, sir, is
it your will to make

a stale of me
amongst these mates?

Mates, maid!

She's the older girl.

She should get married before
Bianca, but who'd marry her?

She's loud.

She's a nuisance, and all
that does is make her angrier.

But to really understand Kate,

you have to understand
the world she came from.

16th-century England was
very much a man's world,

and into this man's world,

Shakespeare created a woman

whose character was a shrew...

but what is a shrew?

What does a shrew mean?

What's the
definition of a shrew?

It means simply a woman
who talks too much.

This is the kind of
comic shrew ballad

that would have been
popular in the taverns

of Shakespeare's London...

but, even to Elizabethans,

the figure of the
shrew was nothing new.

The shrew is the oldest
comic role for women.

You can take it back
to the medieval plays,

You can take it back to
"The Canterbury Tales."

It persists into the
late 20th century

and kind of mother-in-law
jokes or a nagging-wife jokes.

So Shakespeare is
inheriting a tradition.

This is an English tradition.

It's not a
continental tradition.

It's not an antique
classical tradition.

This is from D.W.
Griffith's silent movie

of "The Shrew,"
but the thing is,

traditional shrew tales made
a mockery of the woman.

The shrew that Shakespeare
writes is different.

He seemed uncomfortable
making her the victim of the comedy,

and, although she's fierce,

there's also something
heroic about her, too.

Here's Meryl Streep playing Kate

for Shakespeare
in the Park in 1978.

How but well, sir?

Like Mary Pickford,
Katherine Hepburn,

and Elizabeth Taylor before her,

this shrew was
utterly seductive,

and, although
the men in the play

may always worship
her younger sister,

I think Shakespeare
thought differently.

See thou dissemble not.

Believe me, sister,
of all the men alive,

I've never yet beheld
that special face

that I could fancy
more than any other.

Agh!

There's no doubt
that Shakespeare

seems to love Katherine,
but she's not well-treated.

We don't know why her
father doesn't love her

or doesn't celebrate her

and prefers the
more compliant sister.

She's Cinderella in a way.

What? In my sight?

Bianca, get thee in. What?

Will you not suffer me?

Shakespeare writes the
best dialogue for Kate.

She's the wittiest.

She's far and above the
more interesting character

than any of the other
petite bourgeois...

Her sister, her father,
and all the silly lovers

who come and try to
woo her for her money.

Nay, now I see
she is your treasure,

she must have a husband.

I must dance bare-foot
on her wedding day

and for your love to
her lead apes in hell.

I pumped iron for three months
before I started rehearsal.

I've no idea where
that came from.

I wanted her strength.

I wanted her
anger, her rebellion.

Underneath that aggressive,
provocative, angry behavior

is a woman who has been
damaged by the system.

Now enters a man with a mission,

and this is the part I
really wanted to play.

The first thing we
know about Petruchio

is that he has come to
Padua hunting for a wife...

The richer, the better.

I come to wive it
wealthily in Padua.

If wealthily, then
happily in Padua.

SHAW" "I've come to
wive it wealthily in Padua,"

says Petruchio, which
is a rather nice line.

Petruchio makes love
to the audience, really.

Petruchio woos them.

He gets them on their side,
and he has the language to do it.

When Fiona Shaw
played Kate in 1987,

her Petruchio was Brian Cox.

Petruchio should have weight.

He should be someone
who's really quite considerable

and also slightly undeclared
at the very beginning, you know,

keep himself cool, you know?

Her name is Katharina Minola,

renowned in Padua
for her scolding tongue.

And Petruchios don't
come much cooler

than John Cleese in
this 1980 BBC production.

Hortensio, have you
told him all her faults?

I know she is an
irksome, brawling scold.

If that be all, masters,
I hear no harm.

For Bianca's wooers,

Petruchio presents
a unique opportunity.

Here's a guy crazy enough
to try and tame the shrew,

clearing the way for
them to woo Bianca.

But will you woo this wildcat?

Will I live? Will he woo her?

Aye, or I'll hang her.

Why came I hither
but to that intent?

Think you a little din
can daunt mine ears?

Cleese.

Have I not in my
time heard lions roar?

Have I not heard the
sea puffed up with winds

rage like an angry
boar chaffed with sweat?

Have I not heard great
ordnance in the field

and heaven's artillery
thunder in the skies?

Have I not, in a pitched battle,

heard louder larums,
neighing steeds,

and trumpets' clang?

And do you tell me
of a woman's tongue,

that gives not half so
great a blow to hear

as will a chestnut
in a farmer's fire?

Tush, tush! Fear boys with bugs.

For he fears none.

Petruchio is not a boy.

He's done military service.

It's time for him
to take a wife,

and there is no talk about
falling in love or anything.

He's looking for the candidate.

Here's Richard
Burton, who played

a swashbuckling Petruchio
to Elizabeth Taylor's Kate.

Having never laid eyes on her

and having only
ever heard bad things,

Petruchio is determined that
Kate and her dowry will be his.

So he arrives at her
family home with one aim...

To get consent from
her father Baptista.

Talk not to me.

This is the meeting between
Petruchio and Baptista.

Petruchio says...

Have you not a
daughter called Katharina,

fair and virtuous?

Baptista says, "I
have a daughter... fair."

"We don't know about
virtuous," and it's...

Because she's a handful.
She is more than a handful.

Ah, Bianca, get thee in.

Katherine's father consents

to Petruchio's proposal, but
before he can win the dowry,

he must first win
Katherine's love.

So it's over to Petruchio.

Shakespeare didn't
come from London,

and, perhaps because
he was an outsider,

many of his characters are
anything but conventional.

They're mavericks who make
their own way in the world.

Back in the 19th century,

the American South
was frontier country

filled with a maverick
population of its own.

So when we did
"Thaming of the Shrew"

for Shakespeare in the Park,

we decided to set it in
this Wild West world...

and I finally got the chance to
saddle up and play Petruchio.

Verona, for a while
I take my leave

to see my friends in Padua.

And my Kate?

Well, she was a tough-talking,

gun-slinging broad
named Tracey Ullman.

I was so thrilled because,
as an English person,

nobody would have asked
me to be in Shakespeare

because, you may
not know it, Morgan,

but I'm kind of
common in England.

I mean, working-class girls...

Well, you're not common
here, and you never were.

No. Here, you see, people think

I'm one of the Royal
Family, darling.

But if you wanted to do
Shakespeare in England,

as a girl, I wasn't
that traditional

"but prithee, my
lord," "oh, but verily,

but verily thou dost,"

running around
in an apricot dress

at the RSC.

I didn't do the voice.

Yes.

Aah! Aah! Aah!

Tracey's Kate had the
anger and frustration

of a woman stuck
in a one-horse town

at loggerheads with her family.

Raagh! Yaagh!

Poor Katherine, she's surrounded

by her sister, sort
of just going like this

with men and all
these awful, older guys,

that feel they have
a chance with her,

and she realized,
I think, that she

was just a pawn for her father,

a bargaining chip for him.

A bargaining chip,
yeah, and I think that

was one of the things
that set her off, probably,

the furthest because

it wasn't about attraction
or anything like that.

I mean, even with Petruchio,
it was all about money.

Here she comes.

When Kate and Petruchio meet,

there are gonna be fireworks.

Like most meetings with
Kate, it starts with hostility.

She won't even agree
what her name is.

"Good morrow, Kate, for
that's your name, I hear."

Well have you heard, but
something hard of hearing.

They call me Katharine,
that do talk of me.

You lie, in faith...

This first meeting is make
or break for Petruchio,

and for Kate, it's an
entirely new experience.

Therefore, Kate,
take this of me.

He's an idiot,

not like the other idiots.

He's a different idiot.

But Kate, prettiest
Kate in Christendom.

Kate not only seems
shocked by Petruchio's flattery

but by the bluntness
of his proposal.

Myself am moved to
woo you for my wife.

Ugh!

This gets to be very
sexual, you know?

Come now, you
wasp, you too angry!

If I be waspish, you
best beware my sting.

My remedy then
is to pluck it out.

Aye, if the fool could
find it where it lies.

Now who knows not where a wasp

does wear his sting?

"Who knows not where a
wasp does wear its sting?

In it's tail."

"In his tongue."

"Whose tongue?"

"Yours, if you talk of
tails; and so farewell."

So, farewell!

What, with my
tongue in your tail?

"My tongue in your tail."

With my tongue in your tail?

"With my tongue
in your tail?" Ooh!

What, with my
tongue in your tail?

"What, with my
tongue in your tail?"

Anybody, anybody would know

these two are
made for each other.

So I think it's that
scene that cements it,

not just for them,
but for the audience.

You want them to get together.

It's not about the
taming of the shrew.

It's about these two
actually finding each other.

Petruchio obviously
likes what he sees.

Aside from getting her dowry,

she herself becomes a prize,

and although Kate
tries her best to hide it...

In this version,
in particular...

The chemistry between
them is palpable.

Agreed so well together,

that upon Sunday
is the wedding day.

Oh.

I'll see thee hanged
on Sunday first.

Ha ha ha!

No! No!

Oh!

And after all of this
sturm und drang

about, "Get away from me,"

and, you know,
"What an idiot you are,"

she's totally fascinated by him.

Backstage at the
Globe Theatre in London,

the play's main subplot
is about to get under way.

Here at the beginning of Act III

while waiting for
the wedding day,

Kate's younger sister Bianca

is keeping her own
romantic hopes alive.

This is the more
conventional story

where we have two men
after the same woman.

Here sit we down.

Now...

Disguised as Tudors
to get close to her,

Lucentio and Hortensio
try to win over Bianca

using every trick available
to the Elizabethan lover.

Hic steterat Priami regia...

Lucentio deliberately
mistranslates his Latin lesson.

As I told you before, Simois,

I am Lucentio, hic est,

son unto Vincentio of Pisa,

Sigeia tellus, disguised
thus to get your love.

Hortensio chooses
musical innuendo.

Madam, before you
touch the instrument...

to learn the order
of my fingering...

As she plays them
off one another,

Bianca reveals
herself to be a far cry

from the innocent
girl we saw in Act I...

Celsa senis, despair not.

Madam...

♪ 'tis now in tune ♪

And as Katherine's
wedding day approaches,

so does the day when Bianca
will be open to proposals...

Your father prays
you leave your books

and help to dress your
sister's chamber up.

You know tomorrow
is the wedding day.

Farewell, sweet masters both.

And although we're only
halfway through the play,

the time has come for Kate
and Petruchio to tie the knot.

Katherine and
Petruchio get married

early on in the play, and
Shakespeare is interested

in the nuts and bolts of
how two people get along.

So marriage for him
is never, or very rarely,

an Act V destination
because he's interested

in what happens once
you've had the wedding.

But back the church,
there's a problem.

I remember thinking,

"When is the point
where Kate falls in love

with this guy or decides to?"

and I never used to
know during the play,

it was so physical and
so wild and so angry,

and I realized
when I read the play,

it's when he doesn't show up

on time at the church...

At the church.

And you can read it.

She's so hurt,

and she's so embarrassed
in front of everybody,

and she's never been
embarrassed before,

and I thought,
"That's the point where

you realize she
really is disappointed."

It's like...

And when Petruchio
does finally tum up,

he's not exactly
dressed for the occasion.

The one thing about
the wedding scene

is when he dresses
up so fantastically.

It's about liberating.

It's about saying, "We can
be liberated in this world.

"We can really rise
above this world

if we play our game,
and not their game."

Thus therefore had
done with the words.

To me she's married,
not unto my clothes.

She's marrying a
fantastical, you know,

and, Katharina, you're
gonna be all right, honey,

because you're marrying
someone really crazy.

At the heart of
this play is the story

of two outsiders who
are fortunate enough

to find each other.

It's a very contemporary idea,

and it inspired Kirsten
Smith and Karen McCullah

when they were searching
for a new teen movie in 1999.

I feel like it took
four or five months

of daily scouring
to find something

that would feel fresh
in a teenage context,

and, yeah, I think it
was my friend Rich

in a bar one night who was like,

"Have you guys ever tried

to do "Taming of the Shrew"?"

and I called Karen,
and I was like,

"Taming of the
Shrew"! That's it!

That has to be it!"

And then when she said
"Taming of the Shrew,"

I was like, "Oh,
interesting. Yes, yes"

and then I read it
again, and I was like,

"Definitely. We
have to do this."

I am the only girl in
school who's not dating.

This looks clever.

New rule... Bianca can date...

when she does.

Ha ha ha!

It's "Taming of the Shrew"
for the MTV generation.

Where did you come
from, Planet Loser?

As opposed to Planet
Look At Me, Look At Me!

Kat is strong-willed.

It's not that she's
angry or hates men.

It's that she's feisty, as it
says in the play, wild cat.

McCULLAH: I think there's a
line in the play that Petruchio has

before he even meets
Kat where he says,

"When two raging
fires meet together,

they do consume the
thing that fuels their fury,"

and we felt like
that was kind of

the perfect metaphor
for Patrick and Kat.

Hey there, girlie!

How you doing?

Sweating like a pig,
actually, and yourself?

Now there's a way to
get a guy's attention, huh?

My mission in life.

There's a reason that
the two main characters

in "10 Things I Hate About
You" are drawn to each other,

and it's because they are
both strong-willed and feisty.

Well, maybe you're
not afraid of me,

but I'm sure you've thought
about me naked, huh?

Am I that transparent?

That's kind of the beauty of
the way that Shakespeare writes,

too, is that there's a lot...

There's a lot of
room for interpretation

centuries later.

People have said to us,

"Oh, you wrote
such a great first film.

"It seems so
accomplished and smart

and sophisticated,"
and we sit and think

to ourselves, "It's
because of Shakespeare.

We didn't do that much.
It was Shakespeare,"

but, I mean, he gives
great characters,

terrific plot, twists and turns

and deep themes and, you know,

a romance for the ages.

So we were lucky
to be stupid enough

to stumble upon it.

Ha ha ha!

Looking back, it's
difficult to understand

how one man was capable
of so much so young,

but it's important to remember
that Will was no reclusive poet.

Of course, he was working
in the theater with actors...

and so together, they
were able to figure out

what worked and what didn't,

but 400 years on,
performing these plays

can be a very
challenging process,

and that's particularly
true with this play.

"The Taming of the
Shrew" is probably

the Shakespeare
play that permits

the most polarized
of interpretations.

It can be a terrific
tribute to women,

or it can be a crushing
destruction of women.

- I - guess the traditional view

of "The Taming of the Shrew"
is that either Shakespeare

is a misogynist or he's
promoting feminist values,

but I don't think it's
necessary or productive

to come down on
one side or the other.

I think that you can fully
embrace the ambiguity

of Shakespeare and
the ambiguity in the play.

One of the hardest
moments in the play

comes right after the wedding.

Petruchio wants to leave
for home immediately.

Kate, on the other hand,
wants to stay for the banquet.

And in plain view of
all the wedding guests,

their first marital
clash ensues.

Petruchio's speech in
this scene outlines the role

his new wife will have, as
part of his household property,

and it's enough to
say it hasn't aged well.

Now, if you love me, stay!

Grumio? Aye?

My horse. It be ready.

Nay, do what you
can. I will not go today.

At The Globe in London,

actors are exploring the darker
side of Petruchio's speech.

We, the audience,
then look at this play...

It's here that
Petruchio explains

why Katherine should
follow her husband's orders.

Anyway, let's try it.

Let's try full-on scary dark...

Abuse, control.

I will be master of
what is mine own.

She's my goods, my chattels.

She is my house,

my household stuff, my field,

my barn,

my horse, my ass,

my ox, my any thing.

It's really horrible.

It is. It's horrible.

Sort of feels melodramatic.

You know what I mean? Yeah.

It feels quite— Yeah...

and to stick to that
one path of thought

so strictly, in a way... Do
you know what I mean?

It feels quite narrow.

It's just not complex

or interesting enough, is it?

There's no way of getting
to the end of the play

playing him like this.

It's not sustainable.
Yes, exactly.

It's not sustainable.
It's so evil, that...

You know, he's not Richard III.

What's interesting
is that if you just play

the aggression in Petruchio,
this speech runs out of steam.

It could get quite bawdy.

My, thwack, ass.

Let's try the bawdy version...

"Carry On Taming of the Shrew."

Yeah, exactly.

I will be master of
what is mine own.

Ha ha ha!

She is my goods, my chattels.

She's my house,
my household stuff,

my field,

my barn,

my horse,

my ox,

my ass,

my any thing.

Ha ha ha!

What Shakespeare seems
to be scripting in this moment

is actually something
far more complex.

Be mad and merry
or go hang yourselves.

But for my bonny Kate,

she must with me.

That's definitely
much more interesting.

It lives in the grey area,

doesn't it, this play?

It's not black and white.

Any actor playing
Petruchio must find

a balance in the role, and
when I played Petruchio,

true to our Wild West
setting, we played the scene

at the wild end of the spectrum.

Merry or go hang yourselves.

But as for my bonny
Kate, she must with me.

She's my goods, my chattel.

She's my house,
my household stuff.

She's my field, my
barn, my horse, my ox,

my ass, my any thing,
and here she stands.

Touch her whoever dare.

I'll bring mine action
on the proudest he

that stops my way in Padua.

And it's when Petruchio
gets Kate back to his place

that the problems in this
play really begin to show.

Seems that Petruchio
thought of Katherine

sort of as his possession...

I mean, he even
called her his horse...

But when we talk about...

Stop, Dumas.

When we talk about
training or taming a horse

or any animal, for that
matter, it's a metaphor

we don't particularly like
to use when we're talking

about a man with a
woman, you know?

Let me try this on, OK?

So what does Petruchio do?

He's gonna do the
hardest thing of all,

which is to get her
to come across to him.

I mean, now we've had plays

like "The Horse Whisperer"
and things like that,

you know what he's
gonna have to do.

She's got to come
of her own accord.

Where is my spaniel Troilus?

But even if were to
accept training a horse

as an appropriate metaphor,
Petruchio actually seems

to have much tougher
treatment in store for Katherine.

This is where a lot
of men and women

in the audience get
very uncomfortable.

Where are my slippers?

Over the next two scenes,

Kate will be starved of food
and her clothes cut to shreds.

For the audience, these are some

of the most excruciating
scenes in all of Shakespeare.

Whoreson villain!
Will you let it fall?

This play is very difficult
for readers and viewers,

teachers and students in
this century because it deals

with issues which are very
close to domestic abuse.

Although he doesn't
physically abuse her,

he deprives her of food.

He cuts her off from her family

and from her
familiar surroundings,

but that's a methodology that
domestic abusers use, you know?

They isolate their victim.

Will you give thanks...

sweet Kate,

or else shall I?

He's starving her to death.

Oh, God... Oh, God!

I mean, there's no
doubt that the pace

of this play, the jokes
in this play are funny,

and, in a way, the pace
is part of the comedy

because if you
slowed this play down,

you'd be calling
Amnesty International.

You'd be calling 999,
and the point of farce

is to be so fast,
you don't have time

to think about what's going on.

'Tis burnt, and
so is all thy meat.

It's largely because
of these scenes

some people think we should
consign this play to history.

How durst you, villains?

It might, therefore,
be surprising

that the Royal Shakespeare
Company are trying

to bring "The
Taming of the Shrew"

to a whole new audience.

At Springhead
Community Primary School,

not far from
Shakespeare's hometown,

afternoon lessons
have been cancelled

to make room for shrew taming.

Does this go in the man's
box or the woman's box?

Man's!

Yes! Thank you. OK. What's this?

Man's box or woman's box?

The show starts with laughs...

Are these man's or a woman's?

Yes.

What are you doing? Hurry up.

Sorry. Hurry up!

Sorry, Angela. Sorry.

And, to lighten the
atmosphere even more,

there's a costume mix-up.

So Kate will be
played by a man...

What's going on?

And Petruchio will be
played by a woman...

but it isn't long before
the laughing stops

and Petruchio's cruelty begins,

and, in spite of the
young audience,

this production doesn't
pull any punches.

Oh, what, not a word?

Nay then, then
thou wants it not.

Not content with
denying Kate food,

Petruchio turns his
attention to her clothes.

Having ordered a
new bonnet for Kate,

he now refuses
to let her have it.

And gentlewomen
wear such caps as these.

I like the cap,

and it I will have,
or I will have none.

Oh! Oh!

When you are gentle,

you shall have one,
too, and not 'til then.

And then it's Kate's new dress

that Petruchio objects to.

Thou thimble, thou
yard, three-quarters,

half-yard, quarter, nail!

Thou flea, thou nit,

thou winter-cricket thou!

I tell thee, I...

I wonder what the
kids make of all of this.

That's how she's
been to other people.

So she's getting
it back for once,

and she doesn't like it.

Well, I thought it
was quite sexist,

the way he was talking to her.

Petruchio has all of the power,

and modern day isn't like that,

and everyone
respects each other.

At least that's
what I'd like to think.

But for all of his
tempestuousness,

the scene resolves into
a moment of tenderness

between Kate and Petruchio.

Our purses shall be proud,

our garments poor,
for 'tis the mind

that makes the body rich.

What, is the jay more
precious than the lark

because his feathers
are more beautiful?

Oh, no, good Kate,

neither art thou the worse

for this poor furniture
and mean array.

If thou account'st it
shame, lay it on me.

Deep inside, Kate,
Katherine, was really nice.

At first, you just
didn't see it in her.

Well, in a strange way,
they do love each other,

but it's a strange kind of
relationship that they've got.

He that knows better
how to tame a shrew

then let him speak.

It shows go for your dream.
Do what you want to be.

Yeah. Follow your dreams.

Yeah, and not just give
up, even if it's really hard.

We'll probably never all
see eye to eye on this play,

but despite its problems,

it still has the power
to provoke and inspire.

So...

once Petruchio has tamed Kate,

he can go back to Padua.

He's met his match in Kate,

and, of course, she's
met her match in him.

So now they can afford to
enjoy their lives together.

It's now time for
Petruchio to take Kate

back to her hometown,
back to her family.

They're riding off
into the sunset,

but is that really a sunset,

or is it moonlight?

I say it is the moon
that shines so bright.

I know it is the sun
that shines so bright!

The argument over
the moon and the sun.

Evermore crossed and crossed,

nothing but crossed!

Meryl Streep's
Petruchio was Raúl Juliá,

who clearly enjoyed the role.

Aaaaah...

Forward, I pray thee,
since we have come so far,

and be it moon or
sun or what you please.

And if you please to
call it a rush candle,

henceforth I vow it
shall be so for me.

She is now understanding

the game he plays.

I say it is the moon.

I know. It is the moon.

Nay, then you lie.
It is the blessed sun.

Then God be blessed,
it is the blessed sun.

But sun it is not
when you say it is not.

And the moon changes
even as your mind.

That's a lovely
moment in the play,

when you see her stop him.

What you will have it named,

even that it is.

And so it shall be
still for Katharine.

Now she has him.
She has him nailed.

Interesting thing
about men and women,

man chases a woman
until she catches him.

The most important thing about
"The Taming of the Shrew" is,

it makes you think
about marriage.

What is it?

We're not just hopping, you
know, like a three-legged race

and going to see
who falls over first.

We've got to have a
strategy, and that strategy

has got to include
taking care of each other.

So Kate and Petruchio
return to Padua firmly united.

In their absence, the
younger sister Bianca

has married one of her suitors

while the unsuccessful suitor
has settled for a rich widow.

So Kate and Petruchio are
one of three married couples

in this scene, and they
have a point to prove.

I think that Petruchio and Kate

were in collusion
here for this moment.

Feast with the best and
welcome to my house.

After the feast,
Petruchio and the others

get into an argument over
the obedience of their wives.

I think thou hast the
veriest shrew of all.

Well, I say no and
therefore, for assurance,

let's each one
send unto his wife

and he whose wife
is most obedient,

to come at first when
he doth send for her,

shall win the wager
which we will propose.

Content! What is the wager?

20 crowns.

20 crowns!

I'll venture so much
of my hawk or hound,

but twenty times that
much upon my wife.

A hundred then! Content!

A match! 'Tis done.

So they make a wager.

Content! A match! 'Tis done.

Who shall begin? That will I.

Go, Biondello, bid your
mistress come to me.

First up, Bianca's
husband Lucentio.

How now, what news?

Sir, my mistress sends you word

that she is busy and
she cannot come.

Ooh! Ooh!

How! Busy and she cannot come!

Pray God, sir, your wife
send you not a worse.

I hope better.

Next up, Hortensio.

Oh, ho! Entreat!

Nay, then she must needs come.

I'm afraid...

She must needs come.

Now?

Where's my wife?

She says you have
some goodly jest in hand.

She will not come! She
bids you come to her.

Worse and worst!

Sirrah Grumio, go
to your mistress.

Say I command her come to me.

And so when it comes
to Petruchio's turn,

everybody thinks they know
exactly what's about to happen.

Now, by my holidame,
here comes Katharina!

What is your will, sir,
that you send for me?

Ah! What a beautiful
moment in the play.

Petruchio, of course,
wins the wager,

but then something
completely unexpected happens.

In the final scene, the
shrew... Whose clamorous voice

has, it seems, been
ignored throughout...

Is given the play's
longest speech,

and, as if that's not contrary
and confusing enough,

the speech Shakespeare
gives Kate is a 44-line tirade

on the importance of being
a demure and obedient wife.

We know that women
in Shakespeare's time

didn't have equality, and
we know that there were

expectations on them in
terms of how they behaved

in relationship
to their husbands,

that they were meant
to be submissive.

They were supposed to be
chaste, silent, and obedient.

Women only got married
for financial reasons,

and they were sort of bought
and sold to the highest bidder,

but how wonderful that
Katharina rails against all of that,

and it's actually a kind of a
prescient feminism, I think.

Thy husband is thy
lord, thy life, thy keeper,

thy head, thy sovereign,
one that cares for thee.

Her last speech, which is
a speech about obedience,

doesn't need to be
an obedient speech.

And for thy maintenance
commits his body

to painful labor by
both sea and land,

whilst thou liest warm at home.

The two of them are complicit.

They are sending up
an appalling system.

And craves no other
tribute at thy hands

but love, fair looks,

and true obedience.

I'm sure it was ironic from him,

and I just get a feeling
he must have had

so much respect for women.

Too little payment
for so great a debt.

Most of the women in his plays,

they're not shy
and retiring women.

They step up.

Why are our bodies
soft, weak, and smooth,

unapt to toil and
trouble in the world,

but that our conditions
and our hearts

should well agree
with our external parts?

You play that
final speech ironic,

it doesn't mean anything.

You play it truthfully,
it's more ironic.

My mind hath been
as big as one of yours,

my heart as great, my
reason haply more to bandy,

word for word and
frown for frown.

I think that's rather beautiful.

But now I see

our lances are but straws.

"But now I see our
lances are but straws."

It's not because men are
superior or more powerful.

It's because there is no value

in tilting at
windmills, you know?

Then vail your
stomachs, for it is no boot,

and place your hands
below your husband's foot.

She's willing to sacrifice
in front of all those others

and put her hand down
there under his foot

to say, "It's just
you and me, baby."

My hand is ready.

May it do him ease.

So this is the moment
of, "Ah, kiss me, Kate."

Why, there's a wench.

Come and kiss me, Kate!

Come on and kiss me, Kate!

Come on and kiss me, Kate!

Come on and kiss me, Kate!

At the end, she appears
to be totally subservient,

but the play itself sort of
comes down to a levelling,

that there is no top dog

in a marriage,
in a relationship.

Either it's even or there's
something wrong with it,

and I get the
impression at the end of it

that they're perfectly matched.

Why, there's a wench!

Come on and kiss me, Kate!

She may become a slightly
duller person after this,

but maybe that's what
Shakespeare's playing with,

that we enjoy the
feistiness, we enjoy the fight,

but they both must settle now.

What does Ecclesiastes say?

That there are three
mysterious things in the world...

The way of the wind in the air,

the way of the sea on the rock,

and the way of a man with maid.

Sexuality is
profoundly mysterious,

and relationships between
people are equally mysterious,

and marriage is the
most mysterious of all.

Amazingly, this was
one of the first times

that Shakespeare explored
the mysteries of the human heart,

but it wouldn't be the last.

He was still in his 20s, and his
whole career was ahead of him.

Young William Shakespeare
had written a play

that made its mark.

He was on his way.

He'd hit a rich
seam with this play

about the battle of the sexes,

and over the next 20 years,
he would keep on creating

these extraordinary
female characters...

and it all started with a shrew.

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