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Taming of the Shrew

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TAMING OF THE SHREW, The. 'The Taming of the Shrew) has been the most per manently popular of Shakespeare's minor plays and is still notably successful on the stage. There is little agreement regarding either the date at which it was composed or the extent of Shakespeare's concern in it. It was first printed in the 1623 folio, but a separate quarto edition in 1631 shows its continued appeal at a time when few but the very greatest of the Shakespearean plays justified individual repub lication. This drama is a refashioning of one of the best pre-Shakespearean comedies, 'The Taming of A Shrew,) printed in 1594. The characters are renamed (except Kate) and the lines wholly rewritten, but the general conduct of the plot is not radically altered, more change in the last regard appearing in the story of Bianca than in that of Katharine. Since the effort to ascribe to Shakespeare the original 'Taming of A Shrew) is Invalidated by the fact that the former play belonged to Lord Pembroke's company and by its ridiculous pur loinings from Marlowe, legitimate speculation is limited to discussion of the extent of the poet's revisionary work in preparing 'The Taming of the Shrew.' That the Katharine Petruchio scenes were recast by him is agreed, but many critics refer the scenes dealing with the lovers of Bianca to an unknown second reviser. No particular reason for the last as sumption exists beyond the unwillingness to credit Shakespeare with work not manifestly beyond the abilities of his contemporaries. This, of course, is a correct criterion only where it is clear that the author is exerting his full power. In the case of the present play it is

logical to suppose that the entire revision was done by Shakespeare, who handled the main plot with enthusiasm and retouched the sub ordinate scenes with independence and ade quacy, but in a somewhat perfunctory spirit. The notable Induction, with the character of Sly, is not primarily Shakespeare's contribu tion; it occurs in the earlier version, where indeed Sly continues on the stage through the entire performance and offers frequent com ments like those of Revenge and Andrea's Ghost in 'The Spanish Shakespeare, apparently in the interests of simplification, allows him to be forgotten after the first scene of Act I, but he has made the Induction pecu liarly his own by the insertion of Warwick shire place names and allusions. On 26 Nov. 1633 'The Taming of the Shrew' was acted at Saint James' Palace before Charles I and the queen. It is noted that the play was Two nights later it was followed by a per formance of Fletcher's sequel, 'The Tamer Tamed,) in which Petruchio's second wife turns the tables. Various adaptations of Shakes peare's play were popular in the 17th and 18th centuries. In 1754 Garrick produced a three act abridgment called 'Katherine and Petru chio,) which for a century or more supplanted the original. The complete play was revived by Augustin Daly in 1887 with deserved suc cess. John Drew played Petruchio, Otis Skin ner Lucentio and Ada Rehan Katharine. One hundred performances were given between 18 January and 13 April.