audition Information and CharaCters
Christopher Sly– The principal character in the play’s induction. Sly is a poor vagrant who falls asleep drunk. A Lord returning from a hunt finds him asleep and plays a trick on him. The Lord’s servants carry Sly to the Lord’s house where they dress him up and put him to bed and when he wakes up, they pretend he is the Lord of the House. A group of actors who visit the Lord’s house perform The Taming of the Shrew for Sly.
Sly is cantankerous and quarrelsome more interested in drinking and feasting than accepting the role of an aristocrat. When he finds out that he has a wife (a page boy dressed up) he is anxious to get her alone and take her to bed.
Lord– A very wealthy nobleman whose practical joke on Sly dominates the Induction and provides the set up for the rest of the play.
Hostess- The Proprietor of a Tavern who gets into an argument with Sly at the outset of the play. She throws him out for being drunk and refusing to pay his bill.
Page– A boy servant to the Lord who dresses up and pretends to be Sly’s wife.
Players- A group of travelling actors who arrive at the Lord’s house offering to perform. They help the Lord to play the joke on Sly.
Katherine – The Shrew of the Play’s title and the oldest daughter of Baptista Minola and sister of Bianca. She is strong willed and opinionated and likes her own way. She is viewed as undesirable due to her nature. At the outset of the play she is ill – mannered and prone to outbursts of anger and violence.
Petruchio – A wealthy gentleman from Verona. Loud, boisterous, eccentric and quick witted. He has come to Padua to marry a rich wife and make his fortune. He meets Katherine and vows to marry her despite everyone warning him against it. He sets out to tame her and turn her into an obedient wife.
Baptista Minola– A very wealthy citizen of Padua. He is the father of Katherine and Bianca. He is good hearted and generous towards his daughters and spends money educating them in the arts. Despite Bianca being pursued by many suitors, he refuses to let her marry until Katherine the older sister is married. He is desperate to find her Katherine a suitor as he struggles to cope with her unruly behaviour.
Bianca– The youngest daughter of Baptista Minola and Katherine’s younger sister. She is the exact opposite of Katherine because she is very quiet, sweet and pleasing. Due to her large dowry and her pleasant nature many men compete for her hand in marriage. However, Baptista Minola refuses to let her marry until her older sister is married.
Lucentio– A young nobleman from Pisa who comes to Padua to study at the city’s renowned university. He is immediately side tracked when he is struck by love at first sight and falls deeply in love with Bianca. He is good natured and resolute. He disguises himself as a Classics teacher named Cambio so that he can get access to Bianca and win her love. He eventually wins Bianca’s love. His father is Vincentio who visits near the end of the play.
Tranio– Lucentio’s servant. He plays a key role in Lucentio’s charade as he pretends to be Lucentio and bargains with Baptista for Bianca’s hand while Lucentio is pretending to be Cambio.
Gremio and Hortensio– Two older gentlemen of Padua who want to marry Bianca. Despite being rivals, they become allies because of their mutual frustration with and rejection by Bianca. Hortensio is an old friend of Petruchio and he suggests Katherine as a possible wife for Petruchio. He then dresses up as a music instructor in order to court Bianca. Hortensio and Gremio are both thwarted in their attempts to win Bianca by Lucentio.
Grumio– Petruchio’s servant and the fool of the play. He provides comic relief by pretending to misunderstand Petruchio and getting into ridiculous arguments with him.
Biondello- Lucentio’s second servant, who assist his master and Tranio in carrying out their plot.
Curtis, Nathaniel, Philip, Joseph, Nicholas, Peter– Servants in Petruchio’s household.
Tailor/Haberdasher– The dress maker and hat maker hired by Petruchio to dress Katherine. Petruchio criticises their work and sends them away as part of his scheme to tame Katherine.
Widow – A wealthy widow of Padua whom Hortensio marries after abandoning his attempt to marry Bianca.
Merchant– A merchant recently from Mantua, whom Lucentio tricks into pretending to be Lucentio’s father.
Synopsis of the Play
The Taming of the Shrew is a comedy by William Shakespeare, which is structured as a play within a play. The introduction to the play involves a character called Christopher Sly who is a drunkard. Sly gets drunk and falls asleep outside an inn. A Lord, returning from a hunt with his entourage, passes him and decides to play a trick on him. They take Sly to the Lord’s house, dress him up in luxurious clothes and put him to bed. When he wakes up they pretend that he is a very wealthy man who has lost his mind and been ill for 15 years thinking he was a beggar. The Lord’s page plays Sly’s wife and pretends that she is overjoyed to have him back. A group of travelling players come to the Lord’s house to put on a play and they also become part of the charade as they perform “The Taming of the Shrew” in Sly’s honour.
Lucentio, son of wealthy Vincentio from Pisa arrives in Padua to pursue his education. When he falls deeply in love with Bianca at first sight he is distracted from his studies as he decides to woo Bianca.
Baptista Minola is a very wealthy gentleman of Padua and he is the father of both Bianca and Katherine. Bianca is the younger and sweeter of the sisters. Katherine is ill – tempered, feisty and aggressive. Although Bianca has many suitors, Baptista refuses to let her marry until Katherine is successfully wooed and wed.
So Lucentio joins other suitors, Gremio and Hortensio in competing for Bianca’s hand.
When Petruchio, a gentleman of Verona arrives on the scene looking for a wealthy woman to marry, Hortensio tells him about Katherine. Despite being warned against it, he sets out to woo and marry Katherine.
Meanwhile, Lucentio and his servant Tranio devise a plan to enable Lucentio to spend time with Bianca. In response to Baptista’s request to find teachers to school his daughter, Lucentio disguises himself as Cambio, a Latin teacher. Tranio takes on the part of Lucentio. Hortensio copies the idea and disguises himself up as a music teacher called Litio. They are accepted and begin to try to woo Bianca under their disguises whilst Tranio disguised as Lucentio also poses as a suitor for Bianca.
Petruchio presents himself to Baptista as a suitor for Katherine. Baptista arranges a meeting between Petruchio and Katherine. Katherine’s ill temper and violent outbursts only excite Petruchio. Sparks fly as the two would be lovers engage in a battle of wits. When Baptista and the others return, Petruchio announces that he and Katherine will be married the following Sunday. Their wedding proceeds hastily despite Katherine’s protestations. Petruchio behaves like a terribly during the wedding service and carries his wife off to his home in the country before the wedding feast gets underway. He becomes a real tyrant in his attempts to tame her. He berates his servants. He denies Katherine food and sleep.
As soon as Katherine is to be married, Baptista asks Bianca’s suitors which of them can provide the largest dowries. Tranio states that he can provide a much richer dowry than Gremio but Baptista insists on assurance from Vincentio. Tranio hatches another plan to feign assurance by dressing someone up as Vincentio.
Lucentio, in his disguise as Cambio is busy declaring his love for Bianca as is Hortensio in his disguise as Litio. Bianca falls for Lucentio. When Tranio witnesses the flirtations between Lucentio and Bianca, he convinces Hortensio to stop wooing Bianca. Hortensio agrees and decides to marry a widow instead, leaving the way clear for Lucentio.
Tranio tells the lovers the good news and proceeds to sort out the assurance requested by Baptista before the marriage can take place. He meets a travelling peasant from Mantua and spins a story that all Mantuans in Padua are to be put to death. He convinces the peasant to disguise himself as the Pisan Vincentio and he readily agrees to provide the assurance to Baptista.
Meanwhile, Katherine has now transformed into a polite and gracious wife. Petruchio and Katherine set off on a visit to Padua. On the way they come across the real Vincentio, who is shocked to find that his son is married to Bianca and that someone has been impersonating him. Lucentio begs his father’s forgiveness, the real Vincentio provides the assurance and the marriage between Bianca and Lucentio goes ahead.
In the last scene of the play, all are gathered at Lucentio’s house and the men engage in a bet to see which of their wives is the most obedient to her husband. Both Hortensio and Lucentio summon their wives only to be snubbed but when Petruchio summons Katherine she comes immediately at his calling. Katherine delivers a speech outlining a wife’s duty to her husband and so the play ends.