The Taming of the Shrew

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The Taming of the Shrew by William Shakespeare.

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.

Performance history in South Africa

1809: The play was first put on in South Africa (1809) 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.

First performed in the original form, ***

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

Maynardville productions:

See Maynardville and also the Maynardville website at

In 1956 there was a production of The Taming of the Shrew with Cecilia Sonnenberg as Katherina, Leslie French as Grumio and Dick Leftwich as Petruchio.

In 1984 , directed by Brian Kennedy, with Dorothy-Ann Gould (Katharina) and Ian Steadman (Petruchio), Shirley Johnston, David Dennis, Ian Steadman and others; decor and costumes Penny Simpson.

In 1996 another production of the play was directed by Janice Honeyman.

1996 cast:

Christopher Sly - Wayne Harrison Hostess - Karin van der Laag Lord - Jay Heale Page - Nicholas Dallas Director/Tailor - Mark Hoeben Baptista - Keith Grenville Katherina - Dorothy Ann Gould Petruchio - Sean Taylor Grumio - Neels Coetzee Curtis - Paul Griffiths Haberdasher - Marguerite Albrecht Bianca - Amanda Lane Tranio - Jonathan Pienaar Gremio - David Crichton Hortensio - Jeroen Kranenburg Lucentio - Andr'e Roothman

translations into South African languages

Translated into Afrikaans as Die Vasvat van 'n Feeks by Nerina Ferreira. An enormously successful and star-studded production of this translation was done in the State Theatre, Pretoria by PACT in 198*, under the direction of Francois Swart.


Among the adaptations performed in South Africa are:

Catharine and Petruchio (Garrick)

This is a reworking of William Shakespeare's The Taming of the Shrew by British playwright and actor David Garrick. Garrick cut the subplot entirely and condensed Shakespeare's play into three acts, changing Katherine's name to Catharine. It was written in 1756 and was first staged at the Theatre-Royal in Drury-Lane. It was performed far more often than the original Shakespeare play through the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.

Apparently sometimes also written Catherine and Petruchio and Katharine and Petruchio in some versions.

Performance history in South Africa

1809: An (all-male) production of the Garrick version of (under the title of Katharine and Petruchio) by the officers of the British garrison at the Cape of Good Hope in the African Theatre in February of 1809. This marked 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.

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

Kiss Me, Kate (Cole Porter)

The most famous musical adaptation is Cole Porter's Kiss Me, Kate (1948). Porter wrote the music and lyrics. The book was written by Samuel and Bella Spewack. The musical opened on Broadway at the New Century Theatre, 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.

The Taming of the Shrew - ballet version (John Cranko)

An adaptation as a ballet by South African born choreographer John Cranko (1969), which played at Staatstheater Stuttgart. Performed by the Stuttgart Ballet, with music by the Stuttgart Radio Symphony Orchestra, it was directed by Bernard Kontarsky, and starred Richard Cragun and Marcia Haydee.

The Shrew (Charles Marowitz)

An 1975 adaptation of the Shakespeare text by Charles Marowitz, performed at The Studio in the Sydney Opera House. 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

A C.A.T. production titled The Shrew was presented in the Concert Hall, Baxter Theatre in 1980, directed by Dawn Lindberg feauturing Michael McGovern, Molly Seftel, Des Lindberg, Roland Stafford, Michael O'Brien, Dawn Lindberg.


Trek, 8(1):16, 1943.

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

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