¶ Staging a performance of William Shakespeare’s “The Taming of the Shrew” means managing ethics of conscription and of resistance. The role of Kate is appealing to many because she offers a full-throated and resistant character that third-wave Feminisms connect to, can conscript and inhabit. That is, until the last act and the infamous speech where she encourages the other brides, like herself, to put their hand under their husbands’ feet. How can a production recover Kate from being flattened by what we would now label as Stockholm Syndrome? Need we?
¶ “The Merry Wives of Windsor” is also known as “that other Falstaff” play. The rumor goes that Queen Elizabeth, having been moved by William Shakespeare’s revisions of several older plays into a coherent teratology we call the Henriad, requested Falstaffe be written into another play. But he was already dead by the start of “Henry V,” so now what? “Merry Wives” conscripts the genre of angry women plays to provide a simultanequel: a simultaneous universe where Falstaffe doesn’t die, and instead enjoys his knighthood in the rolling countryside of Windsor. This composition context of “Merry Wives” makes it a perfect play to talk about your brain on repertory.