Chicago Shakespeare Theater’s
The Taming of the Shrew
Casting and Creative Team Announced
April 7 through June 6, 2010
ChicagoMarch 15, 2010Chicago Shakespeare Theater (CST) on Navy Pier closes the 2010/11 Subscription Series with The Taming of the Shrew, Shakespeare’s spark-filled comedy of an unconventional courtship. Returning to CST to direct the production is London’s Bush Theatre Artistic Director Josie Rourke following her celebrated production of Twelfth Night last season. Rourke has assembled a top-notch ensemble, including some of Chicago’s most highly regarded comedic actors and a world-class creative team for the production. Chicago Shakespeare Theater’s The Taming of the Shrew runs April 7 through June 6, 2010 in the Courtyard Theater. Tickets are $44–$75 and may be purchased by calling Chicago Shakespeare Theater’s Box Office at 312.595.5600 or by visiting the Theater’s website at www.chicagoshakes.com.
Fast moving, bawdy and full of wordplay, The Taming of the Shrew continues to be one of Shakespeare’s most popular, crowd-pleasing comedies. Fortune-seeking Petruchio arrives in Padua looking to marry into money. After hearing about the fiery Katharina, he sets his sights on taming her for her dowry. Her younger sister Bianca is eager for Katharina to be wed since her own marriage depends on her elder sister’s first taking place. Bianca is flooded with suitors, including the elderly, wealthy Gremio and a complete newcomer to Padua, Lucentio, who disguises himself as a tutor in order to secretly woo Bianca.
Directing the production is London’s Bush Theatre Artistic Director Josie Rourke, who returns to CST after her critically acclaimed production of Twelfth Night last season. A celebrated director of both classical and contemporary theater, Rourke was appointed Artistic Director of the Bush Theatre in 2007. Her 38-year-old company focuses on the development and presentation of new plays, including works by David Eldridge, Catherine Johnson, Conor McPherson, Stephen Poliakoff and Neil LaBute. Under Rourke’s leadership, the theater was able to reverse major funding cuts threatened by Arts Council England in 2008. As one of England’s foremost voices for not-for-profit theaters, she was named among The Guardian’s “People Who Are Making British Theatre Happen." Rourke has held positions at the Donmar Warehouse, Sheffield Theatres and the Royal Court, and has directed a number of critically acclaimed productions, including David Mamet’s The Cryptogram at the Donmar Warehouse, and Believe What You Will and King John for the Royal Shakespeare Company. For the Bush Theatre, her credits include How to Curse by Ian McHugh, Tinderbox by Lucy Kirkwood and 2,000 Feet Away by Anthony Weigh.
The Taming of the Shrew welcomes back to CST some of Chicago’s most highly regarded comedic performers as well as some outstanding newcomers to Chicago Shakespeare’s stage. Making her CST debut in the role of Katharina is Bianca Amato, who holds a number of credits in leading theaters across the country, including The Guthrie Theater, Signature Theatre, BAM and the Public Theater. Also new to CST is Ian Bedford, whose regional credits include performances at Shakespeare Theater Company, La Jolla Playhouse and the Mark Taper Forum, and who will be playing the role of Petruchio in Rourke’s production. CST veterans include Sean Fortunato as Hortensio; Mike Nussbaum as Gremio; Brian Sills as Tranio and Larry Yando as Baptista. Also returning to CST is Stephen Ouimette as Grumio, a twenty-year veteran of Stratford Shakespeare Festival, who played the role of Oliver in the hit Canadian television series Slings and Arrows. The cast of The Taming of the Shrew is rounded out by Katherine Cunningham as Bianca; William Dick as Stage Manager; Mary Beth Fisher as Director; Alex Goodrich as Biondello; Marc Grapey as Vincentio; Erik Hellman as Lucentio; Steven Pringle as Pedant; Matthew Sherbach as Curtis; Karen Janes Woditsch as Widow and ensemble members Tim Gittings and Terry Hamilton.
Unique to this production is the addition of a new framing device written by award-winning playwright Neil LaBute. The new frame replaces Shakespeare’s seldom produced introduction to the story which is a short two-scene play-within-a-play, in which a nobleman plays an elaborate practical joke on the town’s drunken tinker introducing some of the play’s themes and setting up the story for a troupe of actors to perform The Taming of the Shrew. Director Josie Rourke invited LaBute to re-imagine this introduction from a contemporary perspective, providing a twenty-first century lens through which to view the acting company’s performance of the story in its original sixteenth-century setting.
“One of the reasons I first thought of Neil for this project is his ability to take on big themes and go to the extremes of what it is people want in their lives," says Rourke. "He is very funny and he writes with great speed of thought. His writing has kind of a classical energy to it, and it sits very interestingly with Shakespeare in that sense because his plays move very, very quickly. He can establish in a few lines what most dramatists establish over a number of pages."
Neil LaBute is an award-winning American playwright recognized on both sides of the Atlantic, who first worked with Josie Rourke at the Bush Theatre when he premiered Helter Skelter/Land of the Dead in 2008 and again in 2009 when Rourke directed his play, Wrecks starring Robert Glenister. Often recognized for taking on challenging themes, LaBute’s critically acclaimed plays include: In the Company of Men, which he later adapted into a film that garnered the New York Critics’ Circle Award for Best First Feature and the Filmmakers’ Trophy at the Sundance Film Festival; The Shape of Things; The Distance from Here; Fat Pig; Some Girl(s) and reasons to be pretty. Mr. LaBute has premiered plays at New York’s Public Theater, MCC Theater and The Donmar Warehouse in London, among others. He is the author of several fictional pieces that have been published in The New Yorker and The New York Times, Harper’s Bazaar and Playboy. A collection of his short stories called Seconds of Pleasure was published by Grove/Atlantic in October 2004.
Scenic and Costume Designer Lucy Osborne returns to CST following her collaboration with Rourke on last season’s Twelfth Night. In the European tradition, Ms. Osborne is designing both scenery and costumes for this production, which will span LaBute’s contemporary scenes and the lush world of the Italian Renaissance in Shakespeare’s story of The Taming of the Shrew. Last season she received a Joseph Jefferson Award for creating the dreamlike world of Ilyria on CST’s Courtyard Stage. Ms. Osborne's extensive theater credits include US productions of Artefacts (from The Bush Theatre) and Some Kind of Bliss (from Trafalgar Studios, London) both presented at the 2008 Brits Off Broadway Festival at Theater 59E59, New York and UK credits include 2000 Feet Away, tHe dYsFUnCKshOnalZ! (Bush Theatre); Shades (Royal Court); Timing (Kings Head, London); When Romeo Met Juliet (BBC); Macbeth (Edinburgh Lyceum/Nottingham Playhouse); Closer (Northampton Theatre Royal); Richard III (Cambridge Arts Theatre) and The Prayer Room (Edinburgh Festival/Birmingham Repertory Theatre).
The production team for The Taming of the Shrew also includes Lighting Designer Phillip Rosenberg; Sound Designer Lindsay Jones; Wig and Makeup Designer Melissa Veal; Properties Master Chelsea Meyers and Fight Choreographer Matt Hawkins.
The Taming of the Shrew runs April 7 through June 6, 2010 in the Courtyard Theater. Tickets are $44$75 and may be purchased by calling Chicago Shakespeare Theater’s Box Office at 312.595.5600 or by visiting the Theater’s website at www.chicagoshakes.com.
The Taming of the Shrew has received support from a competitive grant opportunity administered by the National Endowment for the Arts, using funds from the American Recovery Act of 2009.
Land O’Frost is a proud partner of Chicago Shakespeare Theater’s Subscription Series.
American Airlines is the official airline of Chicago Shakespeare Theater.
ComEd is the official lighting design sponsor of Chicago Shakespeare Theater.
Programs in conjunction with performances of The Taming of the Shrew include:
- Pre•Amble: half-hour introductory lectures on The Taming of the Shrew presented by scholars will take place 4/18, 4/25, 5/2, 5/16, 5/23, 5/30 at 1:00 p.m. and 4/17, 5/1, 5/8 5/15, 5/22, 5/29 at 2:00 p.m. Admission is free and reservations are not required.
- Post-show discussions follow each Wednesday 1:00 p.m. performance. Admission is free. No reservations are required.
- The audio-described performance for patrons with visual impairments will be held on Thursday, June 3, 2010 at 7:30 p.m. Patrons should reserve a headset when purchasing tickets in advance. "Access Shakespeare" tickets are $27.
- The duo sign-interpreted performance for patrons with hearing impairments will be held on Friday, May 28, 2010 at 7:30 p.m. Patrons should request the specific seating area when purchasing tickets in advance. "Access Shakespeare" tickets are $35.