An Excerpt from Commedia “Taming”

Years ago, with Masque Theater, we developed an idea to combine Shakespeare with Commedia Del’Arte theatre, and dubbed it “Commedia Del’Bard”.  Working with a basic cast of 6, who had the Commedia names (Harlequin, Columbine…study that theater history, people!) I then rewrote Shakespearean comedies into summarized vignettes, 40-45 minutes in length.  I was one of the 6, and we used a real basic set that could be twisted to anything (poles, banners, benches) and a trunk to hold costume pieces and props.  It was fun, although we only ever got 2 finished and performed: A Midsummer’s Night’s Dream and The Taming of the Shrew.  Below is a brief excerpt from “Taming”.  Yes, I still have these scripts.  And yes, I think it would be great to design 6 basic puppets to do these shows still in the Commedia Del’Arte style.

 

 

Petruchio and Kate reenter…might want to establish set as Petruchio’s home. Grumio can precede them and set up a bench?

Petruchio
Sit down, Kate, and welcome. Where is the foolish knave I sent before?

Grumio
Here, sir, as foolish as I was before.

Petruchio
Off with my boots, you rogue! Be merry, Kate. Some water here? Fetch my supper in.

Grumio gets food

What’s this? Mutton?

Grumio
Aye.

Petruchio
Who brought it?

Grumio.
I.

Petruchio
Tis burnt, and so is all the meat. Where is the rascal cook?

Kate
I pray you, husband, be not so disquiet. ‘Twas a fault unwilling.

Petruchio
I tell thee, Kate, it was burnt and dried away. Tomorrow it shall be mended, and for tonight we’ll fast.

Exits to get tailor and dress

Kate
What, did he marry me to famish me? I prithee go and get me some repast, I care not so it be wholesome food.

Grumio
How say you to a fat tripe finely broiled?

Kate
I like it well. Good Grumio, fetch it me.

Grumio
I cannot tell. I fear ‘tis choleric. What say you to a piece of beef and mustard.

Kate
A dish that I do love.

Grumio
Ay, but the mustard is too hot a little.

Kate
Why then the beef, and let the mustard rest.

Grumio
Nay then, I will not. You shall have the mustard or else you get no beef of Grumio.

Kate
Then both or one, or anything you will.

Grumio
Why then, the mustard without the beef.

She starts to physically threaten him when Petruchio enters with the tailor. Baptista can double as the tailor.

Petruchio
Come, tailor, let us see these ornaments. Lay forth the gown.

Kate
Oh, gentlewomen wear such caps as these.

Petruchio
When you are gentle you shall have one, too, and not til then. Thy gown? O mercy, God! What’s this? A sleeve? ‘Tis like a demi-cannon. What, up and down, carved like an apple tart? Here’s snip and nip and cut and slish and slash. Why what, a devil’s name, call you this?

Tailor
You bid me make it orderly and well, according to the fashion and the time.

Petruchio
I did not bid you mar it to the time.

Kate
I never saw a better fashioned gown, more pleasing. Love me or love me not, I like the gown, and it I will have or I will have none.

Petruchio
I tell thee that thou hast marred her gown.

Tailor.
The gown is made just as my master had direction. Grumio gave the order how it should be done.

Grumio
I gave him no order, sir. I gave him the stuff.

Tailor
But how did you desire it should be made?

Grumio
Marry, sir, with needle and thread.

Petruchio
Well, sir, in brief, the gown is not for me.

Grumio
You are right, sir. ‘Tis for my mistress.

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