The Taming of the Shrew 1990

The Taming of the Shrew PosterBy William Shakespeare    

Directed by: Maarten van Dijk

Performances: November 20, 23-24, 1990

Venue: Theatre of the Arts, Modern Languages Building


The Taming of the Shrew is a play-within-a-play. The story of Kathering and Petruchio, and Bianca and Lucentio, is told by a group of strolling players. It is a practical joke played on a drunken bum by a powerful Lord.

There is no consistent tone to the play as a whole. We lunge giddily from farce to comedy of manners, to slapstick -at times even to trgady; and from one level of "reality" to another. Some characters are complex and rich, and others no more than stock figures from commedia dell'arte. 

What is more, many of them are pretending to be someone else. The drunken bum, Christopher Sly, watches the show with his "wife" who is in fact the Lord's Page, Bartholomew; the Lord is disguised as a servant. In the play-within-a-play, the servant, Tranio, is disguised as his master, Lucentio; Lucentio is disguised as a Classics teacher, Cambio; Hortensio is disguised as a music teacher, Litio; the Pedant is disguised as Lucentio's father, Vincentio; and Petruchio himself puts on many different "acts" for Katherina's benefit. In Shakespeare's day there would have been one final most crucial disguising: the three female parts would have been played by boys.

All of this means that it is impossible for any audience to view the story of how a woman is tamed into submission through starvation, sleep deprivation, and other abuse, as transparent, or "natural". As always, Shakespeare has a reason for his use of "complex seeing." Most obviously, it places Katherine's long, final speech of submission, in quotation marks. There is no pat, happy ending to this play, but a series of dots followed by a question mark...?

Recent Shakespeare scholarship has been fascinated by the figure of carnival as a controlling agent of meaning in his theatre. Carnival is chutzpa, or cheek. Carnival is the enemy of consistency and "order". Traditional roles are reversed, costumes mixed, good taste transgressed, genders bended, forbidden topics discussed, bodily functions acknowledged, and most of all, dominant powers undermined. However briefly, in Shakespeare's "time out", we learn that all things made by humans, even the human subjects themselves, and their relationships with each other, are not unchanging, eternal, and "the way things are", but contingent, temporary, subject to time and change.

When the male actor playing Katherine echoes St. Paul by saying that women "are bound to serve, love, and obey," to her husband, who is played by a woman, the spirit of Carnival turns male chauvinist propaganda into its exact opposite.  


Christopher Sly - Ross Bragg

A Lord - Lance Sibley

Bartholomew / a Page - Robert McCubbin

Huntsmen / A Pedant - Bernard Kearney

Huntsmen, Widow - Glen Link

Baptista Minola / Nicholas - Karen Morton 

Kate - Tony Simopoulous

Bianca - Craig Mason

Petruchio - Darlene Spencer

Lucentio / Gambio - Naomi Snieckus

Gremio / Cook - Mark McGrinder

Hortensio / Litio - Cathy Haavaldsrud

Tranio - Christine Brubaker

Biondello - Cathy Janzen

Grumio - Craig Nickerson

Vicentio / Servant / Musician - Tanya Ross

Curtis / Laywer - Jane Hammond

Nathaniel - Terry Gauchat

Peter/ Musician - Bev Haffner

Sugarsop / Music Master - Tara Kallwitz

Joseph / Musician / Lawyer - Allana McLean

Gregory - Kimwun Perehinec

Creative Team

Director – Maarten van Dijk

​Costume Co-ordinator- Jocelyne Sobeski

​Lighting Design – Mike McDonald

Production Team

Production Manager – Paula Steffler

Stage Manager – Claudia Heinemann

Assistant Stage Managers – Les Storm, Sandra Luciani

Costume Mistress – Karri North

Costume Crew – Naomi Snieckus, Christine Abrams

Properties Masters – Mike Glussich, Arlene Thomas

Sound Co-ordinators - Paula Steffler, Mike McDonald

Sound Operation – Terry Tremeer

Master Electrician – Kathy Prendergast

Publicity – Joyce Hahn

Program/ Photography - Terry Gauchat, Naomi Snieckus

Master Carpenter – Geoff Wells

Carpentry/ Painting Crew – Chris Knarr, Michael Poole, David Flynn, Stuart McVittie, Kathy McGregor, Emerald de los Angles, Jason Burke, Tanya Ross, Bev Haffner, Craig Nickerson, Jane Hammond

Special Thanks

Prof. Lynne Magnussen

Joel Greenberg

Bibi van Dijk

Pieter van Dijk

Paula Steffler


Waterloo Chronicle

Marjorie Bruce

David Carruthers

Stratford Festival 

University of Waterloo Theatre Centre