Originally created 02/28/97

Aiken players tame `Shrew,' and other tales of Shakespeare

After the auditions, it was clear the Aiken Community Playhouse couldn't follow through on its plans to perform Shakespeare's Taming of the Shrew.

They had plenty of women, but they couldn't fill the two male leads. At first, they had a Lucentio, but no Petruchio. When they got a Petruchio, Lucentio had bolted.

They were left with talented players and a desire to do Shakespeare.

So they scrambled.

"We came within a strong male of a full cast," said Thurmond Watley, director of what is now being called We Tried To Cast the Taming of the Shrew but in the Process We Came Up With a Much Better Idea.

In the new, freshly cobbled show, actors will perform well-known snippets from several Shakespeare plays, including Merchant of Venice, Macbeth, A Midsummer Night's Dream and Taming of the Shrew. It will close with a modern one-act play that imagines a scene where Shakespeare's best-known female characters gather to give advice to Juliet about her impending marriage to Romeo. All the characters will have appeared in the snippets.

In the show, which begins this weekend, the actors will read from scripts. The snippets will be brief, and Mr. Watley, an English professor at Aiken Technical College, said he hopes this draws in high school students.

"It's a pretty good introduction to the big plays and the big speeches," Mr. Watley said.

Mr. Watley took some input from the actors in designing the new play, so some people will have a chance to act out a favorite scene.

The show will open with speeches from Shakespeare about theater or addressed to audiences. In this unusual production, he said, he hopes people will take counsel from the introduction to the menial's play from A Midsummer Night's Dream, which says "we come not to offend, but with good will."

On stage

What: We Tried to Cast The Taming of the Shrew But in the Process Came Up With a Much Better Idea
When: 8 p.m. today, Saturday, March 7, 8, 14 and 15
Where: Aiken Community Playhouse, intersection of Two Notch Road and Price Avenue
How much: $7 for adults, $6 for senior citizens, $5 for students
Phone: (803) 648-1438


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