The Taming of the Shrew

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The Taming of the Shrew is a comedy by William Shakespeare (1564-1616)[1].

Sometimes referred to simply as Taming of the Shrew by sources.

Shakespeare's play

Believed to have been written between 1590 and 1592, it is one of Shakespeare's most popular comedies. A much debated play, and adapted in many ways over the years, including numerous operatic and film versions. The energetic 1967 film version with Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor has become an iconic 20th century interpretation of the play.

Translations into South African languages

Translated the play into Afrikaans as Die Temming van 'n Rissie (lit. "The taming of a chilli") by J. van Elders. The text published by DALRO, 1969.

Translated into Afrikaans as Die Getemde Feeks ("The Tamed Shrew") by an unknown author.

Translated into Afrikaans as Die Vasvat van 'n Feeks (lit. "The disciplining of a vixen") by Nerina Ferreira.

Performance history of the original version in South Africa

The play was first put on in South Africa in the popular Garrick version (see below under Catharine and Petruchio), possibly the first production of a full-length Shakespeare play in South Africa, although the first part of Henry IV had been performed there already in 1801 for the opening of the new venue. This version would be done a few more times.

Below is a list of the productions of the full Shakespeare text (in English and in translation) done in South Africa.

1906: Performed by William Haviland and his company in the Opera House, Cape Town, during July and August, as part of a season of five plays. The cast included Haviland as "Petrucchio" and Edith Latimer as "Catherine".

1943: Presented in English by the St George's Grammar School, produced by Mary Holder, in the Cathedral Hall.

1956: It was the first Shakespeare play to be produced at what became known as the Maynardville Open-air Theatre, and was produced in English by Cecilia Sonnenberg and René Ahrenson, and directed by Leslie French, with Cecilia Sonnenberg, as Katherina, Leslie French as Grumio and Dick Leftwich as Petruchio.

1964: Produced in Afrikaans as Die Getemde Feeks ("The Tamed Shrew") by a CAPAB touring company. Among the players were Tine Balder, Pieter Bredenkamp, Cynthia Dekker and Limpie Basson.

1964: Staged in English in the Opera House, Port Elizabeth. Produced by Will Jamieson and presented by the Theatre Guild in the Port Elizabeth City Hall for the Hellenic Community to celebrate the 400th Anniversary of Shakespeare’s birth and was presented in association with the Shakespearean Festival Committee, Port Elizabeth Civic Theatre Fund, The Royal Society of St George and the South African Council for English Education. April 23 - May 2.

Starring Chris Burke (Christopher Sly), Edith Porter (Hostess), George Jones (Lord), Roger Mills , Colin Stevens, Paul Glover, (Huntsmen), Keith Mansfield (Page), Trevor Hicks (Bartholomew). Davis Blood (Lucentio), Ralph Jarvis (Tranio), John Hamber (Baptista), Jacques van Onselen (Gremio), Helen Mann (Katherine), Sydney Hart (Hortensio), Roy Williams (Biondello), Brian Gaven (Petruchio), Gordon Roberts (Grumio), Helen Wilkens (Bianca), Carol Parker (Nurse), Derek Scarr (Curtis), Bruce Erasmus (Haberdasher), Trevor Hicks (Tailor), George Jones (Pedant), Alfred Porter (Vincentio), Edith Porter (Widow), Isobel Porter and Wendy Weller (Bridesmaids to Petruchio), Yvonne Rogers and Wendy Waterfall (Servants to Petruchio), Ian Puntis, Roger Mills, Keith Mansfield, Colin Stevens and Paul Glover (Servants to Petruchio), Ian Puntis, Colin Stevens and Paul Glover (Baptista’s Servants).

1981: Produced in English by NAPAC and directed by Philip Grout, taking an off-beat look and setting the play in 1920, starring Patrick Mynhardt as Petruchio, Jill Fenson as Katherina, Cathy Cota as Bianca and Robert Whitehead as Lucentio. Others in the large cast include Arthur Hall, Joey Wishnia, Bella Mariani, Leslie Sterry, Clive Rodel, David Crichton, Iain Winter and Garth Anderson. After the run at the Alhambra Theatre in Durban, the production visited Pietrmaritzburg, Kokstad, Newcastle, and other venues in the province. Designs by British designer Hugh Durrant.

1983: Produced in Afrikaans as Die Vasvat van 'n Feeks by PACT at the State Theatre, Pretoria. Directed by William Egan, with Marius Weyers (Christopher Sly/Petruchio), Alida Theron (Waardin), Gerrit Schoonhoven ('n Adellike Heer), Tobie Cronje ('n Lyfkneg/Grumio), Louis van Niekerk (Baptista Minola), Sandra Prinsloo (Katherina), Jana Cilliers (Bianca), David van der Merwe (Gremio), Schalk Schoombie (Hortensio), Paul Luckhoff (Lucentio), Nico Liebenberg (Tranio), Johan Engelbrecht (Biondello), Alwyn Swart (Vincentio), Gerrit Schoonhoven ('n Geleerde), Kobus Kleynhans (1e Jagter/Gabriel), Leonard Moss (2e Jagter/Petrus), Didi Kriel (Nathaniel), Athol Hay (Philippus), Barry French (Joseph), Geoffrey Shute (Niklaas), Ilse Swanepoel (Suiker-sop), Gys de Villiers (Snyer), Jocelyn Broderick (Hoedemaakster), Alida Theron (Weduwee) and Adri van der Merwe (Oppasster). Design by Chris van den Berg.

1984: Produced in English at Maynardville, directed by Brian Kennedy, with Dorothy-Ann Gould, Ian Steadman, Shirley Johnston, David Dennis, and others. Decor and costumes Penny Simpson.

1987: Staged in English by PACT, directed by Terrence Shank, with John Whiteley (Lord & Pedant), Shareen Swart (Lady & A Servant), Guy de Lancey (Lucentio), Graham Hopkins (Tranio), Dale Cutts (Baptista Minola), Jacqui Singer (Katherina), Clare Stopford (Bianca), Neville Thomas (Gremio), Peter Terry (Hortensio), Mark Fleishman (Biondello), James Borthwick (Petruchio), Michael McCabe (Grumio), Aletta Bezuidenhout (Curtis & A Widow), Anthony James (Vincentio & A Taylor), Shireen Hollier (A Servant), Adrian Galley (A Servant), Andrew Donald (A Servant) and Paul Bradshaw (A Servant). Designed by Chris van den Berg.

1996: Produced in English by CAPAB Drama (12 January until 17 February) at Maynardville, directed by Janice Honeyman with Dorothy-Ann Gould, Sean Taylor, Wayne Harrison, Karin van der Laag, Jay Heale, Nicholas Dallas, Mark Hoeben, Keith Grenville, Neels Coetzee, Paul Griffiths, Marguerite Albrecht, Amanda Lane, Jonathan Pienaar, David Crichton, Jeroen Kranenburg, André Roothman, Paul Warwick Griffin, Phillip Boucher, Jay Heale, Nicola Hanekom, Lindsay Redman, Michele Matthysen, Russell Boast and Janis Merand. Design by Peter Cazalet, lighting by Malcolm Hurrell, music by Stefan Lombard. Assistant to the director: Mark Hoeben.

2011: Produced by Artscape at Maynardville, directed by Roy Sargeant, with Adrian Galley (Baptista Minola), Anthea Thompson (Katherina), Grant Swanby (Petruchio), Juliet Jenkin (Grumio), Richard Lothian (Curtis), James MacGregor (Nathaniel), Michael Inglis (Walter), Robyn McHarry (Gabriella), Chi Mhende (Phillipa), Gabriel Hoffman (Joseph), Alexander Tops (Ferdinand), Alex Halligey (Bianca), Mark Hoeben (Gremio), Daniel Barnett (Hortensio), Francis Chouler (Lucentio), Darron Araujo (Tranio), Johan Vermaak (Biondello), Peter Krummeck (Merchant), Jeroen Kranenberg (Vincentio), John Caviggia (The Widow), James MacGregor (Servant) and Dewald van Zyl (Servant).

2018: With an all-female cast.


Among the adaptations performed in South Africa are:

Catharine and Petruchio (Garrick)

Catharine and Petruchio is a 1756 reworking of William Shakespeare's The Taming of the Shrew by British playwright and actor David Garrick (1717-1779)[2].

The title is sometimes given in alternative forms, including Catherine and Petruchio in some versions, or Katharine and Petruchio in Dutch sources, sometimes with the original title as subtitle (e.g. Catherine and Petruchio, or The Taming of the Shrew).

Apparently sometimes also written Catherine and Petruchio and Katharine and Petruchio in some versions. Sometimes cited as Katharina en Petruchio in Dutch newspapers in Cape Town.

The play

In this version, Garrick cut the subplot entirely and condensed Shakespeare's play into three acts, changing Katherine's name to Catharine. The shorter three-act version was thus often preferred, because it could be used as part of an evening's programme.

Written in 1754 and first performed at the Theatre-Royal in Drury Lane in March 1754, the was first staged at theDrury-Lane, it became the most successful adaptation of a number done over the years, and dominated the stage for almost two centuries. If fact, Shakespeare's original play did not return to the stage in England until 1844 and in the United States in 1887. Garrick's version was still being performed as late as 1879, when Herbert Beerbohm Tree staged it.

Performance history in South Africa

1809: An (all-male) production of the Garrick version of Katharine and Petruchio (given as Katharina en Petruchio in the local Dutch newspapers) by the Officers of the British Garrison was presented in the African Theatre, Cape Town, on 13 February, with The Poor Gentleman (Colman Jr). A charity performance in aid of the Marina and Military invalids stationed at the Cape. According to F.C.L. Bosman (1928: p. 77), this marked the first production of a full-length Shakespeare play in South Africa, though he mentions that Henry IV, Part 1 had been performed there already in 1801 for the opening of the new venue. (Clearly Bosman considered Henry IV, Part 1 and Henry IV, Part 2 as a single play.)

1809: Performed again as Katharine and Petruchio by the Officers of the British Garrison in the African Theatre on 29 April, with The Mock Doctor (Molière/Fielding).

1818: Performed in the African Theatre, Cape Town, South Africa on 21 November by the Gentlemen Amateurs, with the help of four professional actors from the Theatre Royal, Liverpool (en route to Calcutta), led by Mr Cooke. The accompanying pieces were Crochet Lodge (Hurlstone) and a "Divertissement" called Sandy and Jenny, or Love in the Sack (Griffin)

1825: Performed in English as by the Garrison Players in the African Theatre on the 23rd July, with as afterpieces The Irish Tutor (Glengall) and How to Die for Love! (Von Kotzebue).

1826: Was listed for performance on 20 October, by the Garrison Players, with Blue Devils and A Roland for an Oliver. However, this particular performance did not take place.

1826: Performed in Cape Town by the English Theatricals company (former Garrison Players) in the The African Theatre on the 4th November 1826, with Silvester Daggerwood (Colman Jr.) and A Roland for an Oliver (Morton). This was a benefit performance for Mrs O'Brien and Sgt Corbishley.

1832: Performed as Catherine and Petruchio, or The Taming of the Shrew on 11 August by the All the World's a Stage in the African Theatre, with (Shakespeare) as afterpiece to Kenilworth, or The Days of Queen Bess (Scott).

1834: Performed as Katherine and Petruchio in Cape Town's Garrison Theatre by the "Private Theatricals by the officers of the Garrison" (see the Garrison Players) on 11 July 1834, alongside The Haunted Inn, or How to Lay a Ghost (Peake) and Bombastes Furioso (Rhodes).

1868: Performed as Catherine and Petrucchio, or Taming the Shrew on 10 February by Le Roy and Duret in the Commercial Exchange, Cape Town, with Cool as a Cucumber (B. Jerrold) and Bandwell vs. Pickwick (Dickens), as a farewell benefit for Miss Raynor and Mr Bennee. Repeated on the 13th of February.

Kiss Me, Kate (Cole Porter)

Kiss Me, Kate is perhaps the most famous musical adaptation of Shakespeare's play.

The original text

Cole Porter (1891–1964)[3] wrote the music and lyrics to a book by Samuel Spewack (1899–1971) and Bella Spewack (1899–1990)[4]. The musical opened on Broadway at the New Century Theatre in 1948, where it ran for nineteen months before transferring to the Shubert Theatre and running for a total of 1,077 performances. Directed by John C. Wilson with choreography by Hanya Holm, it starred Alfred Drake and Patricia Morison.

Performance history in South Africa

1967: Presented by the Johannesburg Operatic and Dramatic Society at the Civic Theatre, Johannesburg, directed by Richard Daneel, March to April 1967.

1971: Presented by the East Rand Theatre Club at the Benoni Town Hall in June 1971.

Der Widerspenstigen Zähmung (John Cranko)

Der Widerspenstigen Zähmung is an adaptation as a ballet in two acts created by South African born choreographer John Cranko to keyboard works by Domenico Scarlatti, arranged and orchestrated by Kurt-Heinz Stolze.

The original text

Created for and first danced by the Stuttgart Ballet , it was first presented as Der Widerspenstigen Zähmung by the Stuttgart Ballet at the Wṻrtembergische Staatstheater in Stuttgart on 16 March 1969, with scenery and costumes designed by Elizabeth Dalton and music by the Stuttgart Radio Symphony Orchestra, directed by Bernard Kontarsky. The lead dancers were Richard Cragun and Marcia Haydee. Most often referred to by its English title of The Taming of the Shrew

Performance history in South Africa

The Shrew (Charles Marowitz, 1975)

An adaptation of the Shakespeare text by Charles Marowitz (1932 -2014)[5].

The original text

Created for and performed at The Studio in the Sydney Opera House, the original has been refashioned as a gothic tale. The adaptation removed all the comedy, and instead concentrated on examining the themes of sadism and brain washing, with a misogynistic Petruchio raping and beating Katherina and driving her mad.

The play divided critics, though many celebrated it as a genuinely original and relevant treatment of a difficult Shakespeare text.

Performance history in South Africa

1975: Performed at the Chelsea Theatre, directed by Dawn Lindberg with Michael McGovern, Don McCorkindale, Molly Seftel (as Kate), Des Lindberg, Hugh Rouse, Dawn Lindberg and others.

1980: Performed by C.A.T. in the Concert Hall, Baxter Theatre in 1980, directed by Dawn Lindberg, with Michael McGovern, Molly Seftel, Des Lindberg, Roland Stafford, Michael O'Brien, Dawn Lindberg.

Forced Love a South African TV Series

This is a TV comic miniseries, an adaptation of Shakespeare's The Taming of the Shrew, set in a contemporary South African setting. Originally filmed under the working title of Goba Msenge.

Produced by Penguin Films, with Roberta Durrant as creative director, and co-directors Itumeleng wa Lehulera and Analet Steenkamp. The series ran for two seasons.

See the website at:


NELM: [Collection: KORT, Maurice]: 2012. 379. 19. 24

D.C. Boonzaier, 1923. "My playgoing days – 30 years in the history of the Cape Town stage", in SA Review, 9 March and 24 August 1932. (Reprinted in Bosman 1980: pp. 374-439.)

F.C.L. Bosman. 1928. Drama en Toneel in Suid-Afrika, Deel I: 1652-1855. Pretoria: J.H. de Bussy. [6]: pp. pp. 77-8, 107, 109, 155, 187, 190, 194, 224

F.C.L. Bosman. 1980. Drama en Toneel in Suid-Afrika, Deel II, 1856-1912. Pretoria: J.L. van Schaik: p.425

Poster (1975 production) held by NELM: Poster Collection [Collection: LINDBERG, Des and Dawn]: 2005. 56. 4. 5

Tucker, 1997.

Trek, 8(1):16, 1943.

Die Burger 25 July, 1964.

Brian Barrow and Yvonne Williams-Short (eds.). 1988. Theatre Alive! The Baxter Story 1977-1987.

NAPAC News April 1981.

PACT Die Vasvat van 'n Feeks theatre programme, 1983.

PACT theatre programme, 1987.

The Maynardville programme booklet of 1996.

Artscape theatre programme, 2011.

Petru & Carel Trichardt theatre programme collection.

Go to the ESAT Bibliography

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