“The Taming of the Shrew” is a comedy by William Shakespeare, believed to have been written between 1590 and 1592, but what Deptford High School’s theatre department is preparing for is a modern approach to the play.
The original plot is centered around Petruchio, who enters into a marriage with a strong-willed young woman named Katherina and then proceeds to “tame” her to be a better wife.
Director Peter Mosiondz says that Deptford’s adaptation isn’t so much about Petruchio attaining a woman, but instead about Katherina, a strong-willed independent woman who has put up defenses because of abusive men in the past, trying to find the ability to be vulnerable enough to trust again.
“The play asks what happens to someone when they have built a defense and what it would take to let oneself be vulnerable,” Mosiondz said.
The story has been adapted numerous times over the years for the stage, screen, opera, ballet, and musical theatre. Perhaps most notably is the adaptation to film, with the 1999 high school comedy film “10 Things I Hate About You,” featuring a young Heath Ledger and Julia Stiles.
The school’s theatre department began playing Shakespeare in 2004 with “Much Ado About Nothing.” Since then, it’s performed “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” “Romeo and Juliet,” “Twelfth Night” and “As You Like It.”
“With a Shakespeare play, you have to look at it, decode it, find the pattern in it, and then think about how you would say it for modern times,” said senior Steven Smith, who started in the school’s theatre department as a sophomore.
In 2012, the theatre first started experimenting with different stage variations, such as performing with an audience on three sides of the stage, or what is known as a “thrust stage.”
“I realized that even though people know the show, they didn’t understand us saying the words because they weren’t close enough to see it and hear it well,” Mosiondz. “We don’t have the kind of budget a musical has, so we really rely on the audience to be close to us.”
A thrust theatre stage consists of being surrounded by the audience on three sides, with the fourth side serving as the background.
Since the stage is 40 feet wide, guests wouldn’t be any more than 15 feet away from the actors during the play.
“This staging helps us break down that barrier of distance and the idea that it’s just a play. It makes it more like you’re watching it on film,” Mosiondz said.
The seats on stage hold 95 guests. If the show attracts more ticket-goers, the first two rows of auditorium seats will be available, changing the theatre from a thrust stage to an arena, or “in the round” stage.
Only right before showtime will the cast and crew know what type of staging they will be using.
The play is starring Gianna Wolfe as Katherina and Smith as Petruchio. Other cast members include Keyanna Brown, Amy Corbin, Victoria Delgado, Santos Diaz, Kaylee Helwig, Aaron Jengo, Gianni Lewis, Eugene Lutz, Aarsa Moosavi, Andrew Pylypczyk, Hanna Shein, Christina Tarrach and Marco A. Viloria.
Shows are Nov. 21 through 23 at 7:30 p.m at Deptford High School, 575 Fox Run Rd. Tickets are $5 for regular admission and students and $4 for senior citizens. Tickets can be reserved by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org with your name and ticket order. Tickets for unreserved seats will be sold before each performance at the door.