Shakspere Society of Philadelphia
Maybe not the first, but the oldest Shakespeare club in America or possibly even the world, has kept minutes for over a hundred fifty years.
MEETING OF THE SHAKSPERE SOCIETY OF PHILADELPHIA AT THE FRANKLIN INN CLUB, APRIL 2, 2003
Dean emeritus Hopkinson in the chair. Other members present: Bartlett, Bornemann, Cramer, Di Stefano, Dobson, Fallon, Friedman, Griffin, Lehmann, Mabry, Madeira, O'Malley, Peck, Pickering, Schmalzbach, Warden, Wheeler.
Mr. Friedman presented those present with careful directions, in large font, to the Awbury Arboretum in Germantown, where we will gather at the Francis Cope House for the annual Birthday Dinner on April 23. Our collective thanks again to our industrious hosts, Messrs. Friedman, Madeira and Pope. Members who wish to attend and have not yet responded to Mr. Pope are urged to do so with dispatch and gusto! Spouses and partners are again welcome; there is an additional cost, of course.
We had a vigorous discussion of the last act of The Taming of the Shrew. The Vice Dean reminded us that here the two plots'the wooing of Bianca and the taming of Kate by Petruchio'come together. Disguises again make good theater in these scenes, especially when the real and the false Vincentio confront each other and confound the other characters. Tranio robustly enjoys playing a rich man who is used to issuing orders and being quickly obeyed.
Meanwhile, Kate and Petruchio have ended their war. Has Kate given in? Have the two grown close and abandoned their mutual attempts to dominate? Petruchio insists on a public kiss; Kate demurs but quickly yields. Angry? Ashamed? Pleased? Teasing? Has Petruchio's shock treatment shown Kate that she has been outrageously willful and childish? Or has Kate simply provided good theater, both to the audience and to her family and her intended?
We talked at length about Kate's famous speech of submission, urging wives to yield utterly to their husbands' wishes, the price of happiness in marriage. The Vice Dean asked whether we accept this change in Kate in the theater. How should the speech be spoken? Ironically? Flirtatiously? Comic display to get laughs from her family and from us? Is the speech an example of absurd farcical hyperbole, or is it simply a forceful restatement of Elizabethan received ideas? A mixture? Sexy gamesmanship?
Kate makes this speech after two other new wives have refused to obey their husbands. Members asked whether Kate was continuing her earlier combat with Bianca, so pliable and admired until married! Can we believe Kate will live so submissively in the future? Should we wonder what their marriage will be like? The Vice Dean opined that we do not ordinarily ask such questions about the future at the end of any "comedy of marriage."
A member felt that Kate plays a game here, for Petruchio's enjoyment. She will play the role in an exaggerated way of the traditional Patient Griselda who has no will except her husband's, but she shows the wit and energy and playfulness that can make their marriage a joy, not just acting out of traditionally assigned social roles.
MEMBERS WILL MEET AGAIN ON APRIL 23 FOR THE 152ND ANNUAL SHAKSPERE'S BIRTHDAY DINNER, AT THE FRANCIS COPE HOUSE IN THE ASBURY ARBORETUM, 6:45 PM.
Respectfully submitted Robert G. Peck Secretary