By Aaron Retherford
For a comedy, William Shakespeare’s The Taming of the Shrew is no walk in the park. The unfamiliar language can trip up actors, and directors sometimes struggle with the out-dated misogynistic themes that are present.
So what better choice for Twinfield Drama Club’s only show this year?
Featuring a cast of just under 25 students from Twinfield Union School, U-32, and Montpelier High School, and led by director Tom Blachly and assistant director Laura Cassetty, the Twinfield Drama Club will put on three shows at Twinspace in Twinfield Union School from March 13-15.
“It’s a big cast. I’ve got a good crew. It involves a lot of people. It’s sort of a big deal,” Blachly said. “This has been a terrific group of kids. They’re really talented and really committed to the project.”
Blachly had never directed The Taming of the Shrew, and he said he wanted to tackle the Shakespearean play.
“It deals with a very sensitive subject, and I like that kind of challenge,” Blachly said. “My assistant director, Laura Cassetty, is a senior at Montpelier High School, and it was really her idea to do this show in the first place.”
The Taming of the Shrew portrays the main female character as difficult and anti-social. Her father is trying to get her married, and no one will marry her because of her unpleasant demeanor. There is also a younger daughter, whom everyone wants to marry, but the father won’t allow her to wed until the older daughter does.
A charming man comes to town and is enticed by the challenge of “taming” the daughter. On the surface, the play appears to endorse misogyny since the “shrew” gives a submissive speech about how a woman’s duty is to obey her husband.
To keep up with society’s modern sensibilities, that speech has taken on a more ironic tone.
“Traditionally it’s been more about keeping women in their place,” Blachly said. “That’s the controversy of the play. How do you navigate through that thicket?”
Attendees will have three opportunities to see how the Twinfield Drama Club navigates those themes. The show begins at 7 p.m. on both Friday, March 13 and Saturday, March 14. The Sunday, March 15 show begins at 2 p.m. Tickets are $10 for general admission and $5 for students/seniors. Call 426-3955 for information and ticket reservations.
This will be the first time Blachly has directed a play at the high school level with Twinfield Drama Club. He has worked with elementary age kids. He also has plenty of experience directing adults as well, and can appreciate the differences.
“I like both equally,” Blachly said, comparing adults to kids. “It’s fun to work with kids because they have a lot of energy and enthusiasm. They bring a lot of youthful energy to the production, which is really great. I think it’s more of a teaching process, working with kids because they’re not exposed to this kind of thing generally. Most of them haven’t had a lot of experience working with Shakespeare.
“I think of it as an educational experience as opposed to just plain fun. We do a lot of work on the text, so the kids really know what they’re saying. You’re teaching something about a different era and a lot of unfamiliar words, so it increases their vocabulary.”
The drama club at Twinfield has been kind of intermittent over the years. Blachly knew he wouldn’t have enough cast members from strictly Twinfield Drama Club members, so he opened the show up to area schools when he held casting last fall. It also allowed Twinfield students to connect and get to know some students from U-32 and Montpelier High School.
“It’s actually a great thing. They make more connections with each other. They make friends with kids from other schools they normally wouldn’t,” Blachly said.