“The Taming of the Shrew” is a problematic show. The main plotline revolving, as it does, around a woman being forced into an arranged marriage to an apparent loony who then proceeds to beat and starve her into submission. Literally.
There is another plotline but that shit is boring and I don’t give a motherfuck about Bianca. Fuck that ho.
I’ve seen “Shrew” done many times.Â Most memorably while I was working at the New York Shakespeare Festival, and we produced it for the Delacorte summer season. Morgan Freeman and Tracy Ullman played the raucous couple. I was interested to learn that the show wasÂ controversial even back in the day, and of course Katerina’s final speech is still debated. Was she truly broken? Sarcastic? Complicit with Pertruchio in order to secure the loot on offer from the “gentleman’s” bet about which wife would be most obedient when the assembled husbands demand their obedience?
This is all debatable.Â But dammit. I really wanna star in that play!And I know the world needs another staging of “Taming of the Shrew” like Los Angeles need another pair of fake titties.
But I still have this fantasy…what if…what if you did a BDSM / Leather take on the show? What if the Minola family was A Leather Family? What if Katerina’s reluctance to submit was fear of giving in to that desire?
…and what if Petruchio really did beat the snot out of her…and she loved it?
Am I over worrying about that shit?
To this day, I get squishly in the knees when I read Katerina’s speech at the end of the show…when she is the only wife to promptly obey the command of her husband, and appear when he commands.
- Fie, fie, unknit that threat’ning unkind brow
- And dart not scornful glances from those eyes
- To wound thy lord, thy king, thy governor.
- It blots thy beauty as frosts do bite the meads,
- Confounds thy fame as whirlwinds shake fair buds,
- And in no sense is meet or amiable.
- A woman moved is like a fountain troubled,
- Muddy, ill-seeming, thick, bereft of beauty,
- And while it is so, none so dry or thirsty
- Will deign to sip or touch one drop of it.
- Thy husband is thy lord, thy life, thy keeper,
- Thy head, thy sovereign; one that cares for thee
- And for thy maintenance; commits his body
- To painful labor both by sea and land,
- To watch the night in storms, the day in cold,
- Whilst thou li’st warm at home, secure and safe;
- And craves no other tribute at thy hands
- But love, fair looks, and true obedience–
- Too little payment for so great a debt.
- Such duty as the subject owes the prince,
- Even such a woman oweth to her husband;
- And when she is froward, peevish, sullen, sour,
- And not obedient to his honest will,
- What is she but a foul contending rebel
- And graceless traitor to her loving lord?
- I am ashamed that women are so simple
- To offer war where they should kneel for peace,
- Or seek for rule, supremacy, and sway,
- Whey they are bound to serve, love, and obey.
- Why are our bodies soft and weak and smooth,
- Unapt to toil and trouble in the world,
- But that our soft conditions and our hearts
- Should well agree with our external parts?
- Come, come, you froward and unable worms,
- 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.
- But now I see our lances are but straws,
- Our strength as weak, our weakness past compare,
- That seeming to be most which we indeed least are.
- Then vail your stomachs, for it is no boot,
- And place your hands below your husband’s foot,
- In token of which duty, if he please,
- My hand is ready, may it do him ease.
Pronouns and gender aside, this speaks so much to me about what submission is.
I have a mind to learn this monologue. Might come in handy.
Now…to find a kinky actor who could convincingly throw two-hundred or so pounds of me over his shoulder…