The Induction (often cut in production)
Christopher Sly, a tinker, is found drunk and unconscious at a Warwickshire inn by the local lord. For his own amusement, the lord decides to convince Sly that he is not a poor tinker, but rather a nobleman who has fallen ill and forgotten his true identity. A troupe of traveling players arrives at the nobleman's house and is put to use: to perform a play for "the nobleman's" entertainment. When Sly awakes from his drunken stupor at the lord's manor house, he is clothed in finery and surrounded by attendants and his "wife," a male servant of the lord. Sly is more inclined to enjoy his wife than the play, but is warned that sex will prompt a relapse into illness. The players are announced and Sly prepares to watch.
Baptista Minola, a rich merchant of Padua, has two daughters: Katherine, the elder, is notorious far and wide for her "devilish spirit," while her younger sister Bianca is greatly desired for her "beauteous modesty." As the play-within-a-play opens, Lucentio, a young, enthusiastic scholar, has just arrived with his servant Tranio to attend university in Padua. The two watch as Baptista tells Hortensio and Gremio, eager suitors of Bianca, that his younger daughter cannot marry before a match is found for Katherine. Though the suitors believe this will be an impossible feat, they agree to Baptista's terms so each can pursue Bianca.
Watching the family scene play out in front of him, Lucentio falls in love at first sight with the fair Bianca. Tranio suggest that the two exchange clothes so that Lucentio, now posing as "Cambio," can gain access to Baptista's household as a tutor to Bianca. One of Bianca's other suitors, the elderly Gremio, hires "Cambio" and offers him as a favor to Baptista for his girls' education.
Meanwhile, Petruchio, a worldly and self-admitted fortune hunter, arrives in Padua shortly after his father's death to repair his fortune by seeking a wealthy bride. His friend Hortensio has faint hopes that Petruchio may be the answer to the Katherine problem that stands in the way of his suit for Bianca. He tells Petruchio about Katherine, but warns him of her shrewish ways. Petruchio is resolved that he will marry Katherine and secure the fortune he seeks. Another Bianca-suitor, Hortensio, disguises himself as "Litio," a music teacher, and offers his services to the Minola family. Tranio, dressed as his master Lucentio, becomes another suitor to Bianca in disguise. As "Lucentio," he is to secure an agreement with her father while the real Lucentio (now disguised as "Cambio"), secures Bianca's love for himself pretending to be her tutor.
An exasperated Baptista intervenes as Bianca once more suffers her older sister's abuse. Baptista shows his favoritism for Bianca, and Katherine responds with hurt and more verbal abuse. Petruchio, Hortensio (disguised as "Litio"), Gremio and Lucentio (disguised as "Cambio") all arrive together at the home of Baptista. Without ceremony, Petruchio introduces himself as a suitor to Katherine. Gremio presents "Cambio" (Lucentio) as a tutor for the girls; and "Litio" (Hortensio) offers himself as a music teacher. Tranio, dressed as his master Lucentio, arrives and declares himself another suitor to Bianca. Petruchio says that he has no time to lose and hastens a marriage agreement with Baptista before he ever sets eyes upon his intended. Baptista agrees conditionally: Petruchio, he says, must still win Katherine's affection. Hortensio returns wearing a broken instrument around his head and reports that it is the work of his unruly new pupil, Katherine. Petruchio prepares to meet her.
Katherine appears and Petruchio immediately adopts a familiar tone, addressing her as Kate, and complimenting her lavishly. She gives him a violent tongue-lashing, but Petruchio remains undaunted-and clearly, Katherine has at last met her verbal match! Petruchio concludes that their wedding day is set for Sunday and Baptista returns to consecrate the match. With Katherine's marriage arranged, Bianca suddenly becomes available. Gremio and "Lucentio" (Tranio) bid for Bianca's hand by demonstrating their comparative wealth to Baptista. Tranio, who is fabricating the entire scene, outbids Gremio by exaggerating the fortune of Lucentio's father, Vincentio. Baptista agrees to the match with Lucentio-provided the young man can present his father to vouch for the agreement. Tranio plans to recruit an elderly stand-in.
Lucentio (as "Cambio") and Hortensio (as "Litio") vie for their pretty pupil's attention. Through Latin lessons, Lucentio reveals his true identity to Bianca, who does not discourage his advances. Hortensio pronounces his love too, but Bianca rejects him. Petruchio arrives so late to his wedding that Katherine believes herself abandoned. When he does make his appearance, he is dressed so outrageously that Baptista and Tranio plead with him to change before the ceremony. He refuses, determined that Kate will marry him for who he is rather than for the clothes he wears. The ceremony and Petruchio's antics occur off stage, as reported by Gremio. The wedded couple and their party return from church, but Petruchio insists that he and Kate depart before the wedding banquet. Furious, Kate resists, but is carried off against her will to Petruchio's country house.
Grumio arrives at Petruchio's country house ahead of the couple, and reports to the other servants on his master's outrageous behavior throughout the journey home. Poor Katherine arrives mud-soaked, hungry and cold. Petruchio orders dinner for his exhausted bride, but does not allow her to eat. They retire to bed where he continues to rant and rave, and deprives her of much-needed sleep. In a soliloquy, Petruchio confides his plan to "tame" Kate and admits his own uncertainty.
Back in Padua, Hortensio witnesses Bianca's attention toward Lucentio, and angrily ends his pursuit, vowing now to marry a rich widow instead. Tranio encounters a stranger on the road traveling to Padua and by fabricating a story of imminent danger, offers the traveler safe disguise—as Lucentio's father, Vincentio. Meanwhile, the education of Katherine continues. Petruchio offers her beautiful garments to wear to her father's home, then takes back his gifts, asserting that Katherine will have gentlewoman's clothes when she becomes a gentlewoman. The couple's journey back to Padua is halted each time that Katherine inadvertently crosses her husband. The lesson finally learned, she proves her obedience by agreeing with Petruchio that the sun is the moon and that an old man they meet on the road is, in fact, a young maiden.
Tranio introduces the traveler, disguised as Lucentio's father, to Baptista and the marriage between Lucentio and Bianca is settled. Lucentio's second servant, Biondello, meanwhile, encourages his confused master to elope with Bianca while her father is detained.
The real Vincentio arrives in Padua to visit his son and finds an imposter pretending to be him, and his own servant, Tranio, pretending to be his son. Vincentio fears foul play. But the Paduans doubt his identity and are about to cart him off to jail when the real Lucentio appears with his new bride. Both fathers are amazed, but Vincentio promises Baptista his approval of the marriage agreement previously made with an imposter.
All retire to Lucentio's home for a wedding feast honoring not only the marriages of Baptista's two daughters, but of Hortensio and his widow. The ladies withdraw and the husbands wager between themselves on whose wife will prove the most obedient. Petruchio wins the wager. He then asks Kate to tell the other women of their wifely duties. She does so, much to everyone's amazement—and Petruchio's delight.
– Contributed by the CST Education Department