Bard's great conspiracy arrives at Fort

Maude Eisele for The Leader
Posted 8/4/23

Olympic Peninsula native Roger Ferguson has accumulated half a century of experience in bluegrass music, and estimates he’s played in Port Townsend and Jefferson County “countless …

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Bard's great conspiracy arrives at Fort


Shakespeare’s “Taming of the Shrew” often gets a bad rap. At first glance, it seems to be a story of a male-dominated society once again repressing everyone else, bending outcomes to its will.

But a closer read reveals more nuance written into the relationships of the play. Katherine — or Kate the "wildcat" — has grown up in a world that almost fell apart. She's held on to her spunk, through sheer tenacity, and expresses her frustrations with her society’s expectation that only marriage can make a woman whole or valuable. 

Setting their version in the 1930s gives Saltfire Theatre the freedom to explore a universe somewhat parallel to our own, reeling with catastrophic changes from the Great Depression, social mores shifting, and sexual politics heating up once again.

Into Kate's not-so-quiet world enters Petruchio — a playboy of sorts, mourning the death of his father and, having been financially reckless, in need of fresh funds. His plan: marry the rich girl — so what if she's got a bit of a temper.     

"I happen to believe that Kate and Petruchio experience love at first sight. I think they're two wild adolescent people who learn to grow up with each other," said Todd Olsen, who directed the play for Shakespeare in the Park in Tampa Bay.

Just before he sets eyes on Kate, Petruchio predicts, "Where two raging fires meet together, they consume the thing that feeds their fury." Oh, how right he is. 

Overwhelmed by having met their match, both "shrews" lose their desire to rage alone, and instead, join forces to rage against the world, together. 

Kate and Petruchio's marriage is "a kind of conspiracy against the rest of us,” said Harold Bloom, author of the definitive modern criticism of Shakespeare's plays, “Shakespeare: The Invention of the Human.”

Taming of the Shrew plays Aug. 3 to Aug. 6 and Aug. 17 to Aug. 20 at Fort Worden State Park, and Aug. 10 to Aug. 13 at Finnriver Farm & Cidery. Pay-what-you-wish tickets are available for every performance.