Shakespeare – The Taming of the Shrew

«Go to thy cold bed and warm thee.»
«Go play with yourself.»

«The Taming of the Shrew» No Fear Shakespeare (2004) version

I’ve written about the ballets (Cranko and Maillot). Recently I got the book «No Fear Shakespeare: The Taming of the Shrew» with the original version on the left side and the modern translation on the right. A good reason to read the play again (original and modern, switching paragraph by paragraph) and watching the Maillot ballet. And damn, still a great story.

The modern version (all quotations on this page from «No Fear Shakespeare: The Taming of the Shrew») had annotations explaining a few words, for example:

Io was a mortal girl whom the god Zeus (called Jupiter by Romans) raped. Out of jealousy, Zeus’s wife transformed her into a cow.

which lead to additional thoughts (guess the old gods didn’t dick around when someone dicked around, kinda like the Clintons today).

In general, the modern translation was very helpful, for example, when it came to Latin phrases:

TRANIO Master, it is no time to chide you now. Affection is not rated from the heart. If love have touched you, naught remains but so: Redime te captum quam queas minimo.
TRANIO Master, this is no moment to lecture you. The heart won’t be reasoned with. If love has touched you, love has touched you—end of story. But, as the Roman Terence advises, now that you’re a captive, it’s time to buy back your freedom at the lowest possible cost.

which also worked back to find better ways of expression, for example, trust me, I know what I’m doing:

LUCNETIO If thou ask me why, sufficeth my reasons are both good and weighty.
LUCNETIO Don’t ask why. Just trust me–I know what I’m doing.

And in general good advice:

TRANIO And do as adversaries do in law,
Strive mightily, but eat and drink as friends.
TRANIO … and following the example of legal adversaries, who fight tooth and nail in court but eat and drink as friends.

Of course the humor is great (if you don’t know the story, Katherina is the shrew of the story whom no-one wants to marry, and Baptista is her father):

PETRUCHIO And you, good sir. Pray, have you not a daughter
Called Katherina, fair and virtuous?
BAPTISTA I have a daughter, sir, called Katherina.

And even the rascals have honor:

TRANIO (as LUCENTIO) … Upon my life, Petruchio means but well,
Whatever fortune stays him from his word:
Though he be blunt, I know him passing wise;
Though he be merry, yet withal he’s honest.
TRANIO (speaking as LUCENTIO) … No, no, I assure you, Katherine—and you, too, Baptista—Petruchio means well, whatever circumstance prevents him from keeping his word. He’s rough-edged, but he’s a good man, and though he likes a joke, he’s not a liar.

And as written in the other posting, there’s also this historic shit test:

TRANIO (as LUCENTIO) Let us entreat you stay till after dinner.
PETRUCHIO It may not be.
GREMIO Let me entreat you.
PETRUCHIO It cannot be.
KATHERINE Let me entreat you.
PETRUCHIO I am content.
KATHERINE Are you content to stay?
PETRUCHIOI am content you shall entreat me stay, But yet not stay, entreat me how you can.
KATHERINE Now, if you love me, stay.
PETRUCHIO Grumio, my horse.
TRANIO (as LUCENTIO) Please, stay till after dinner.
PETRUCHIO Can’t do it.
GREMIO As a favor to me?
KATHERINE As a favor to me?
PETRUCHIO I’m delighted.
KATHERINE Delighted to stay?
PETRUCHIO Delighted to hear you ask so nicely, but I won’t stay in any case.
KATHERINE Look, if you love me, stay.
PETRUCHIO Grumio, get me my horse.

Of course some passages might some … screeching today, especially if these people don’t have a sense of humor:

KATHERINE Fie, fie! Unknit that threat’ning unkind brow
And dart not scornful glances from those eyes
To wound thy lord, thy king, thy governor.
It blots thy beauty as frosts do bite the meads,
Confounds thy fame as whirlwinds shake fair buds,
And in no sense is meet or amiable.
A woman moved is like a fountain troubled,
Muddy, ill-seeming, thick, bereft of beauty,
And while it is so, none so dry or thirsty
Will deign to sip or touch one drop of it.
Thy husband is thy lord, thy life, thy keeper,
Thy head, thy sovereign, one that cares for thee,
And for thy maintenance commits his body
To painful labor both by sea and land,
To watch the night in storms, the day in cold,
Whilst thou liest warm at home, secure and safe,
And craves no other tribute at thy hands
But love, fair looks and true obedience—
Too little payment for so great a debt.
Such duty as the subject owes the prince,
Even such a woman oweth to her husband.
And when she is froward, peevish, sullen, sour,
And not obedient to his honest will,
What is she but a foul contending rebel
And graceless traitor to her loving lord?
I am ashamed that women are so simple
To offer war where they should kneel for peace;
Or seek for rule, supremacy and sway
When they are bound to serve, love, and obey.
Why are our bodies soft and weak and smooth,
Unapt to toil and trouble in the world,
But that our soft conditions and our hearts
Should well agree with our external parts?
Come, come, you froward and unable worms!
My mind hath been as big as one of yours,
My heart as great, my reason haply more,
To bandy word for word and frown for frown.
But now I see our lances are but straws,
Our strength as weak, our weakness past compare,
That seeming to be most which we indeed least are.
Then vail your stomachs, for it is no boot,
And place your hands below your husband’s foot:
In token of which duty, if he please,
My hand is ready, may it do him ease.
KATHERINE Girls, girls! Wipe those frowns off your faces and stop rolling your eyes. This disrespectful stance toward the man who is your lord, your king, your governor tarnishes your beauty the way the frosts of winter blights the land. It mars your reputations as whirlwinds shake fair buds. And in no sense is it fitting or attractive. An angry woman is like an agitated fountain—muddy, unpleasant, lacking in beauty. And in this condition, no one—however dry or thirsty he may be—will stoop to sip or touch one drop of it. Your husband is your lord, your life, your keeper, your head, your sovereign, one who cares for you and who, for your ease and comfort, commits his body to harsh labor both on land and sea. Long, stormy nights at seas he stays awake, by day he endures cold while you lie safe and warm, secure in your beds at home. And in exchange he seeks no more from you but love, kind looks, and true obedience—too little payment for so great a debt. A woman owes her husband the same loyalty a subject owes his king. And when she is peevish and perverse, sullen, sour, and disobedient to his honest wishes, what is she but a loathsome, warlike rebel and an ungrateful traitor to her loving lord? I am ashamed that women are so foolish as to declare war when they should plead on their knees for peace, that they seek authority, supremacy, and power when they are under an obligation to serve, love, and obey. Why are our bodies soft and weak and smooth, unfit for toil and trouble in the world, if not so that our soft qualities and our hearts should agree with our external parts? Come, come, you weak, ungovernable worms! My spirit has been as proud as each of yours, my courage as great, and my reason perhaps even better suited to bandy words back and forth and exchange frown for frown. But now I see our weapons are like straws, our strength like a straw’s weakness, and our weakness past comparison, so that we seem to be the thing we most are not. Humble your pride, then, since it’s useless, and place your hand beneath your husband’s foot. As a gesture of my loyalty, my hand is ready if he cares to use it. May it bring him comfort.

But yeah, beautiful story of two people fitting perfectly together.

As for the ballet — well, I would love to see the Cranko version again, as I’m a fan of historic-looking costumes and more humor in the story. But the Maillot version … holla.

Image from

As usual some license with the story, but still, impressive to watch.

So, all in all, beautiful story, beautifully implemented.