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Shakespeare teaches conflict resolution

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Olivia Nobles

Staff Writer

Troy’s Department of Theater and Dance will be performing William Shakes­peare’s “The Taming of the Shrew” Oct. 11 through 13 at 7 p.m. and Oct. 14 at 2:30 p.m. 

General admission tickets are on sale now for $10 at the Trojan Center Box Office and online at troytheateranddance.org, but are only $5 for those with a student I.D.

Caitlin Hicks, a senior hospitality management major and performing arts minor from Troy, said it has been challenging to get into the character of Katherina, the “shrew” that gives the play its title. 

“This has been my most challenging role yet, but in all the best ways” Hicks said. “Because of the amount of work that has gone into this character, she is the first that really feels like a part of me now.“I’m thrilled to continue to carry her with me after the show closes.”

Also preparing for the performance is Caylee Sanders, a senior theater major and performing arts minor from Goshen. 

When asked about the difficulties of understanding her character Bianca, Sanders said she had to “do a lot of research on the language… Beyond that, I think delivering the lines in a way the audience will understand is very challenging.”

Besides the Shakespearean language, social customs from the 16th century may be difficult for a modern audience member to accept. “The Taming of the Shrew” has garnered a negative reputation among many modern readers for its sexist overtones, as Allison Riley, a senior fine arts major from Cowarts, explained.

“I was surprised to see that this was the play the Theater department chose, to be honest,” Riley said. “I remember reading this a few years ago, and it just sounded dated and really misogynistic.”

The play depicts Pertruchio “taming” his wife, Katherina, and many critics say that this reinforces the idea that women be subject to their husbands. 

Quinton Cockrell, an associate professor of theatre and dance and director of “The Taming of the Shrew,” argues for a more in-depth discussion, however.

“Shakespeare’s genius is that while he’s satisfying a popular need of the time, when you look closer, it’s not a difficult woman being healed by a virtuous man,” Cockrell said. “Both of these characters need each other.

“That being said, I have tried to soften certain aspects of the ‘taming,’ if you will.”

Cockrell’s ‘Director’s Note,’ which can be found in the programs distributed before each performance, outlines the thought process that led him to take certain artistic liberties with this performance.

Cockrell emphasized the message to learn from “The Taming of the Shrew” is one of conflict resolution, not one of bigotry. 

“I’d like students to leave this play prepared to consider the consequences before they leap into conflict,” Cockrell said. “We are a society addicted to argument and conflict. 

“We watch it for entertainment. I would like students to approach different situations thinking how they can make it better.”

Miché Smith, a senior theater and dance double major from Gautier, Mississippi, encourages audiences to embrace the play. 

“I believe many people our age, including myself, are usually intimidated by Shakespeare,” Smith said. “Hopefully our audiences walk away with more of an open mind about his wonderful work!”

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