Proud Paduans

ChiRounding out our series of interviews with the cast of Taming of the Shrew, we have Jan Marsh, Vince Faso and Sarah Stewart, who essentially play the people of Padua, the city where Shrew takes place. Each of them plays an essential part, with Sarah in particular playing a key character who has less than a dozen lines in the play. But supporting roles are still critical roles in this play, and each of these folks brings more than their share to the table.

So who are you, in 100 words or less?

Jan: Good question. The answer changes daily.

Vince: I’m an Oakland resident and have a degree in Performing Arts & Social Justice from the University of San Francisco. I have performed with many companies around the Bay Area and enjoy the occasional stints as a director and playwright. During the day I teach middle school Drama at Redwood Day School in Oakland where we’re currently in rehearsals for “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat.” My other love is improv and I’m a proud member of Chinese Ballroom Comedy Improv.

Sarah: I am a mom, an engineer, a musician, and now happily again – an actor! I strive to find balance in life and to enjoy the good things that come my way. I feel incredibly blessed to live in San Francisco, where just tonight I watched the sun set from Ocean Beach. I enjoy playing music for toddlers in my spare time at a weekly tot jam, doing yoga, and hanging out at the playground with my family.

How did you get involved with Theater Pub?

Jan: I had worked with Meg O’Connor at Playwrights Center of San Francisco. She was directing Theban Chronicles for Theater Pub and her choragos dropped out so I replaced her.

Vince: I also performed in the Theban Chronicles several years ago and have been a fan since. I’m glad to get a chance to perform in a full Theater Pub production.

Sarah: The director (Stuart Bousel) is one of my oldest friends. I have seen many of his shows & have always dreamed of performing in one. Stars aligned for me to be a part of this show, and I have Stuart to thank for making it happen.

What do you love about being in a Theater Pub show?

Jan: Working with Stuart Bousel.

Sarah: I love this cast and the director! Everyone is so talented, professional and fun! And I love how accessible Theater Pub is!

Sarah Stewart: Ray of Sunshine

Sarah Stewart: Ray of Sunshine

Vince: The talent is impressive and the atmosphere is exhilarating. The audience is so much a part of the show, and it reminds me of improv.

What do you see as the biggest challenge?

Vince: The audience is so much a part of the show, and it reminds me of improv.

Sarah: The short time frame. This play came together over a few weeks.

Jan: Synching the show/cast’s needs with the Pub’s needs.

Tell us about your character- who are they, what do you love about them, what do you hate?

Jan: Baptista is a mother who wants to provide for her daughters; one has many suitors and can choose the highest in a bidding war, the other is valued by her mother, but not the market. A man comes who understands Katherina, knows how to deal with her, marries her, and facilitates change for her. Baptista makes the best of all possible deals for Bianca, who then ruins it and the family by marrying her tutor. In the long run, Baptista gets what she wanted for both of her daughters, one of whom shows her true colors, the other of whom comes to herself. I like Baptista’s fierceness, and enjoy playing her dualities.

Jan Marsh: Fierce

Jan Marsh: Fierce

Vince: Hortensio is a guy who can get things done (or can put you in touch with someone who can). He’s traveled extensively and soaks up experiences like a sponge. I like Hortensio for his quick, fearless wit and how he moves seamlessly between every plot in Shrew.

Sarah: The Widow marries Hortensio after he loses Bianca. She is wealthy. I think she is a bit ahead of her time as a liberated woman (this is what I love about her). She gives her husband a hard time, but is also disturbed by Katherina’s scolding tongue. I hate (strong word) that there isn’t more time to get to know the widow, she is a brief part of the play.

Tell us about Padua, since all your characters live there. What’s it like? Good schools? Housing market?

Jan:Pretty churches, nice river, good economy, great university.

Sarah: I imagine Padua to be similar to Tucson, AZ. There is a rancher, there is a university, there is a lot of drinking and dating of the same people. Average people can afford to have decent places to live.

Vince: Padua is a small, well-to-do town. The kind of place that thinks very highly of itself and resembles larger cities on a smaller scale. Seems like a place where most folks know each other and there’s only one of each occupation.

Each of you plays key supporting characters- what’s the best thing about having a “supporting role”?

Sarah: Less lines to learn! And a great opportunity to learn from watching
the other actors.

Jan: Every cog is important in any play, but Shakespeare even more so than normal. I am small, but I must turn precisely in order for it to work.

Vince: It’s one of the toughest things to do in theatre but sometimes it’s fun to be on stage and not be the center of attention; simply being present in the moment.

Vince Faso: Motivating Like A Champ

Vince Faso: Motivating Like A Champ

One of your characters, the Widow, doesn’t have a name in the script. What do you think her name actually is?

Sarah: I’d like to name her “Gloria” (after Gloria Steinem).

Vince: Florence Isabella Domenico-Bernelli-Pontedra-Lombardi-Giovanni-Francesco-Farfalle.

Jan: Girrlfriend!

What’s your favorite line in Shrew?

Vince: “Better once than never, for never too late.”

Sarah: “He that is giddy thinks the world turns round.” –The Widow

Jan: I like that it starts out with “…good pastime toward….wonderful froward”, and ends with “…children are toward…women are froward”. Kind of a Shakespearean chiasmus.

What’s your favorite beer at Theater Pub?

Sarah: Anchor Steam.

Vince: Brother Thelonius Belgian Style Abbey Ale.

Jan: Well, I don’t drink, but have had their Australian blood orange soda.

Join us for the last two performances of Taming of the Shrew- tonight at 8 PM and Wednesday at 8 PM, only at the Cafe Royale.

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Cowan Palace: Bombs, Dog Food, and Audition Woes

Ashley Cowan dramaturgs her own audition process. 

On Monday night I bombed an audition. And no, I’m not being hard on myself. I was really terrible. I got up, introduced myself, and a few words into my first monologue I just blanked. It was the worst. Especially because it was a piece from my homeboy, Willy Shakes! The same fella I’ve been writing about these past few weeks in honor of Taming of the Shrew. But while those guys were honoring the language, I was destroying it.

Maybe you’ve been there. You have those lines down cold a moment before you step into the audition room; you’ve literally run it twenty times that day without freezing up and then boom. And you wail, “why oh why, did it all leave my brain the second I actually needed it?”

Needless to say, I spent the rest of the evening curled up into a ball and soaking my pillow with defeated tears. I was heartbroken.

Lately, I feel like auditions haven’t been coming around as often as I’d like and here I go and ruin the one chance I have. I’m being dramatic, yes. But that’s the business, baby, haven’t you been watching Smash? Bad TV aside, auditions are hard. You learn to make a business out of rejection. I’ve been told I’m too big, too small, too tall, too similar to Rose McGowan – you get the point, but it’s supposed to be my job to do whatever I can to try and land the part, right? And when you suck at it, you can’t help but feel like you suck at life.

On Tuesday, I woke up in a sleepy haze and tried to get ready as usual. I noticed that the dog food jar was sitting open on the floor with its top lying next to it. I found that to be strange but since it was 7am, I decided not to care and put the cap back on and continued hurriedly getting ready. As I was packing my things, I noticed our cat was pawing at the jar and biting it with her small teeth. She was slowly working the lid off the jar so she could sneak her paw in and scoop out a piece of kibble. The scene made me literally LOL. After four years of living with a cat who loves to eat dog food, this was the first time I had seen her actually go after what she wanted in a new way. Usually she just sits by it and meows. But suddenly she changed her ways. And as silly as it sounds, it made me feel better. It seemed to say that there are other ways to go after the things you love and want. You’re not destined to fail the same way each time if you attempt a new route.

So tonight, I decided to get back out there. I had another audition. Same two monologues as Monday’s bombfest. Plus a song. All day I felt torn between wanting to cancel so I wouldn’t have to worry about further murdering my  dreams  and desperately wanting to redeem myself. In typical dramatic fashion, I put a lot of pressure on what would ultimately only last about three minutes of my life.

After helping me run my pieces again a few times, my cheerleader (best) boyfriend (ever) kindly drove me to the audition and made me yell “I’m the man” (ala Beasts of the Southern Wild) a few times before heading upstairs. And while my stomach may have given a home to every butterfly in town before I uttered a word, I got the lines out this time. Which, after my devastating Monday night, was a huge victory. And I had a great time. While I’ll never really enjoy the pressure of showcasing acting talent in the form of one minute monologues, I do love every opportunity I get to become a different person for a moment and act. It’s a gift. So perhaps, I’ll attempt to make that my new route. Or at least I’ll keep at it. Because even if that cat never gets into the dog food, she’s never going to stop trying. And I just can’t live with a cat fighting harder to chase her dreams than me.

And if you want to see talented folks not destroy Shakespeare – make sure to check out  Taming of The Shrew playing at Café Royale Monday, March 25 and Tuesday, March 26 at 8pm!

Gremio vs. Grumio

In honor of our second night of Taming of The Shrew, we thought we’d take a moment to highlight the real conflict of the play: Gremio vs. Grumio! Here to share their thoughts on these two characters are Ron Talbot and Shane Rhoades, who bring these two characters to life all this month at Theater Pub.

So, who are you in a hundred words or less!

Ron: I am a contrarian. All my life society, family, friends and not-so-friends have attempted to categorize me and lock me into a nice comfortable slot to match their world view. As a very stubborn and ornery individual by nature (sometimes to my detriment) I have taken a perverse joy in reshaping myself to consistently defy expectations. Now I enjoy a wonderfully fulfilling life that revolves around family, friends, challenging work, and theatre. And my cat.

Shane: I am a Bay Area native, born and raised. I grew up in San Bruno, went to school at San Jose State, and I have been acting in San Francisco for the past two years. Before I caught the theatre bug, I was a major sports junkie. Wrestling (I love spandex), football and baseball were my favorite sports.

And how did you get involved with Theater Pub?

Shane: I heard about Theater Pub quite often during a production of 12th Night that I was in a couple of years ago. Many of my cast mates were previously involved in Theater Pub and my director (Stuart) I believe was producing Pint Size around the same time as the run of our show. The following spring, Stuart and Karen Offereins asked me to be a part of Odes to March, which reunited me with many of my fellow 12th Nighters and I had a blast doing it.

Ron: Kim Saunders (Kate) recommended me to the director and he was brave (foolish) enough to cast me sight unseen. No pressure, nope, none al all… (Editor’s note: not entirely true: I had seen Ron before I cast him and I liked his look for the character; plus I know Kim well enough to know she’d never be married to a bad actor).

What’s got you excited about working here? What’s got you worried?

Shane: I always love doing Shakespeare, and roles that require a lot of physical comedy. I also love performing in plays that tend to be very divisive and elicit very passionate responses from the audience. People are never indifferent about their feelings towards Shrew, and I think that what makes it such an exciting play. The atmosphere of Theater Pub is always so much fun to perform in as well. At first, I was very concerned if I was the right fit for Grumio. I never pictured myself playing him, but I am working with a great cast and the process has been great, so I am not as concerned now.

Ron: Excited – I have a long standing love of Shakespeare and the opportunity to perform in such and fun and vibrant atmosphere as Cafe Royal/Theatre Pub is a dream come to true for me. I am a strong proponent on making Shakespeare’s plays more accessible, fun and direct. All to often they are presented either in a stagnate and overly rarified manner or they are forcibly warped and corrupted to illustrate some social or political agenda. Worried – A beer falling on my head. (We have a balcony) Seriously though we only have 2-3 weeks to fully stage an entire Shakespearian script; exhilarating, challenging, and deeply terrifying.

Have you ever been in Shrew before? What’s your history with this show?

Shane: I was in Taming of the Shrew a few years ago in San Jose. I played all of the roles that were, in essence, background scenery (Officer, Haberdasher and one of the servants), so I am very happy to revisit this play with a much more substantial part.

Ron: This will be my third Shrew, and in may ways this play is tracking my life progress. First I played the young idealistic lover, Lucentio, then I moved on to play the mature and somewhat cynical Petruchio, and now, the grumpy old man, Gremio.

Ron Talbot: A Shrew's Best Friend

Ron Talbot: A Shrew’s Best Friend

Tell us about your character- what do you love about them, what do you hate about them- what do you see as the biggest challenge?

Shane: There are many things that I love about Grumio, but I especially love the relationship he has with Petruchio. It’s almost like they’re siblings. One minute they have each others back then they’re at each other’s throat the next. I can’t say that I hate anything about Grumio. There are a couple of challenges with Grumio because there really isn’t very much revealed about him throughout the play. He’s a pretty obscure character who is prone to making very random statements. He can be interpreted many different ways, which is exciting, but therein lies the first challenge. The second is to not make him a caricature, which is very easy to do with this role.

Ron: Gremio is a fairly straightforward character with roots in Comedia. I like to think of him as mixture of a country gentleman and a dirty old man. I suppose the biggest challenge is not to lose the audience’s sympathy, Winter/spring marriages are looked upon with abhorrence by our society and while I want the audience to root for Lucentio I also don’t want to despise Gremio.

One of you is named Grumio and one of you is named Gremio. What do you think is up with that? Was it a misprint? Does it mean something? Was Shakespeare just lazy?

Shane: I have no idea. I was too lazy to look into it.

Ron: I don’t read to much into this. There are lots of names in english that sound almost identical. To an Italian they probably don’t even notice the similarity. Consider Ron/Don/John or Lauren/Laura.

In a fight between Gremio and Grumio, who do you think would win?

Ron: My only hope would involve a Bazooka and 100 yard starting range, other then that Grumio would win hands down. Our Grumio is pretty much the personification of “Big Strapping Lad”.

Shane Rhodes: strapping lad.

Shane Rhodes: strapping lad.

Shane: Grumio, by far! Grumio is a bit more rough around the edges and can take a beating. Gremio’s chin is questionable.

A lot of famous lines in Shrew- what’s your favorite one?

Ron: One of Kate’s lines that resonates strongly with me as well, oftentimes to my detriment: “My tongue will tell the anger of my heart, or else my heart concealing it will break.”

Shane: A line that was unfortunately cut from this version. “Am I but three inches?”-Grumio

A large selection of beers at our bar- what’s your favorite beer?

Shane: I could always go for a good IPA.

Ron: Bodington’s! Come see the and show and if you like it, buy me one.

Shrew has its second performance tonight- don’t miss it! It starts at eight, only at the Cafe Royale in San Francisco, but get there early because we fill up! Plus, we have a pop-up sushi kitchen tonight, starting around 6 PM, so get there early to get a table and enjoy some sushi before the show!

Bizarre Love Triangle

Everyone knows Taming of the Shrew for its warring leads, but the action of the story begins with Lucentio’s quest to marry Kate’s sister, the fair and mild-mannered (or is she?) Bianca. In honor of our show opening tonight, we took the time to interview our Lucentio (Brian Martin), our Bianca (Shay Wisniewski) and our Tranio (Sam Bertken), Lucentio’s loyal servant who in some ways spends as much time courting Bianca as Lucentio does.

So who are you, in a hundred words or less.

Brian: I am Brian Martin, a native San Franciscan and a recent graduate of the theater program at SF State. I have been acting steadily in San Francisco for several years now.

Shay: I’m a performer in the Bay Area that loves to dance, act and sing (only alone in my apartment with my cat). I started a theater company with two of my good friends senior year of college called Do It Live Productions and have been producing lots of shows, including new work in the area.

Sam: I’m a Bay Area native returning from four years in the Midwest. I like writing, performing, drawing stories in general.

And how did you get involved with Theater Pub?

Brian: I got involved with Theater Pub in its first year when Stuart Bousel asked me to be a part of the Lovecraft staged reading series, and since then I have done a reading of The Dragon, and was in the second Pint Sized Play Festival.

Shay: I had started going to theatre pub a few years back and have always been interested in what it was all about. Finally, I was asked by Stuart to be a part of Taming of the Shrew

Sam: I met Stuart while volunteering at the SF Fringe Festival. I was described as “always auditioning,” which I guess is how I got this part!

Who wouldn't hire that smile? Actor Sam Bertken is one tricky slave.

Who wouldn’t hire that smile? Actor Sam Bertken is one tricky slave.

What’s got you excited about working here?

Sam: Honestly, at first I was just excited to be performing in San Francisco, but the sense of camaraderie is very infectious.

Brian: I’m so excited to be back at Theater Pub; I have a blast every time I perform here. I really like the atmosphere and excitement that comes with performing in a Theater Pub show, the audience always seems to appreciate the work and the fact that it’s a more relaxed atmosphere.

What’s got you worried?

Brian: So many things can happen at Theater Pub shows that you have no way of preparing for in rehearsal, so I am little worried about doing a full production in this situation but it’s also part of what makes this process exciting.

Sam: Yeah, I’m mostly worried that I’m going to step on someone.

Shay: Well, im always excited to do theater! And I always get excited about doing Shakespeare. Doing a show with a company that I have never worked with is always a thrill, I just worry that I wont fit in so I stay shy for a good portion of the process. I get worried about putting up a show with a three week rehearsal process, especially Shakespeare. It always takes a bit longer to learn the lines. But, I
have put my trust in this very talented cast and will perform with all my confidence in them.

Shay Wisniewski: too trusting for her own good?

Shay Wisniewski: too trusting for her own good?


Have you ever been in this play before? What’s your history with this show?

Shay: I had never been in or seen this play. I had actually never read it all the way through (bad theater student)! I have seen the wooing scene done in high school at competitions, and those scenes always stand out in my mind so because of that, I have always wanted to be in it! One day I will conquer Kate…

Sam: Never been in Shrew but I have been in other Shakespeare plays! I watched some classmates do the opening scene between Tranio and Lucentio once, but that’s the extent of it. The interpretation this time is a bit different.

Brian: This will be my first production of The Taming of The Shrew. I am familiar with it from reading it and from seeing the Elizabeth Taylor/ Richard Burton film and a DVD of a really entertaining comedia del arte performance ACT did in the late 70’s.

Shrew is considered controversial- why do you think that is?

Sam: I think the go-to answer is perceived misogyny.  The gut reaction to this play is that it preaches subjugating women to the will of their husbands.

Brian: Well, I have to admit that’s how I use to think of the show, but working on it and understanding it better, I no longer believe that.

Shay: The only thing I could really think could be controversial about it is how open it is about women in the time it was written being seen as objects and property. But that is still true, in some ways, in modern times, and I think what is great about this play is how Kate is a strong woman, despite the times, and she doesnt loose that through the play. Through some say a ‘man’ changed her, I see it as someone who took the time and effort to see past her ‘shrewishness’ and to dig out the good while still respect her personality.

So tell us about your characters. 

Brian: Lucentio is a wealth young man from Pisa, who is thrilled to begin his studies in Padua until he spots Bianca and can think of nothing else but how to win her and with the help of his best friend and servant Tranio, concocts a scheme to do just that. I love him for his passion and commitment; when he sets his sights on something he will work to overcome every obstacle to get it. I don’t hate anything about him, but this passion and commitment can make him inconsiderate and selfish at times. I think the biggest challenge is to make sure I create a well-rounded three dimensional character that fits into this particular production.

Brian Martin: rounding it out.

Brian Martin: rounding it out.

Shay: Bianca, the other shrew. I love that she, like Kate, has a strong sense of who she is and what she wants. She has a strong hold on so many men in this play. I like to love vicariously through her. She, like me, is the little sister, so I could connect with her and the younger sibling manipulation element to her character. I wish she was more out spoken! But I guess there cant be that much shrew in one show.

Sam: We’ve been talking a lot about the commedia stock characters that are the root of the characters in this play, and Tranio, my character, is definitely Arlecchino, who is a personal favorite of mine.  I like that I get to be mischievous and play silly characters, but the biggest challenge is coming up with interesting stakes for the character.  If he succeeds or fails, he just goes back to being a servant.  So, why strive for success?

What makes Tranio different from the usual sidekick role?

Sam: For one thing, this sidekick has some brains on him.  He’s quick on his feet and takes on some big risks but pulls it with aplomb (I hope!)  One of the possibilities that also exists in a character like Tranio is having his own aspirations be interesting and important, outside of helping his master woo a dame.  Even though he can never transcend his actual role in society, it’s interesting to see how he takes to manipulating folks for his (master’s?) own ends.

When you go about creating a role, what’s your process, in a nutshell? How do find a way into a character, particularly one written so long ago?

Shay: I like to look at what I say in regards to myself, and the others that I interact with. Then I like to go through everyone else’s lines to see what they say about me. I make decisions on whether those things are actually true or if its a facade. I then discuss my relationships with the other actors and create secrets about each one that they never know about. I think whether the character is written yesterday or 400 years ago, you can still find something in common with them that will ring true to who you are as an actor.

Brian: When I create a role I read the play over and over and then think about the themes and how my character fits into the play as a whole. Then I investigate my character line by line, his actions and what others say about him to find his objectives, obstacles, relationships and backstory and with Shakespeare I look for the directions he gives in the writing. Then I set about relating to and understanding him so that his choices are my choices and his backstory become mine. Even though they were written so long ago I really don’t think the process of getting into a Shakespearian character is any different from getting into a modern character, except for certain beliefs at the time that influence the way a character thinks and behaves. Lucentio wants the same things any modern character might want: love, success, sex etc.

Sam: I love physical theatre, and since there is some commedia influence here, I start from the outside, creating the character body and developing a caricature that way.  That’s the first impression the audience gets.  Then, from this center point, I think about what situations prompt the character to change–how does he react to different stimuli (specifically, the ones in the play)?  That takes the character where he needs to go for a larger-than-life type of production like this.  It’s also helpful to think about the character in relation to his double–Lucentio–and ruminate on what sets him apart and what makes them peas in a pod.

For Shay and Brian, Shakespeare is known for having several sets of lovers in his comedies- usually a serious couple and a not-so-serious couple. Which couple are you and what’s cool about being that couple? What kind of sucks about it?

Brian: It depends on what you mean by serious, we are the serious couple in behavior and story as our character’s behavior and arc is a little more traditional than that of Petruchio’s and Kate’s, but we are “not-so serious” couple in that I think Petruchio and Kate are the couple the audience becomes more invested in. I am enjoying being a one of the more traditional young lovers, because I get to work with the very passionate and sincere romantic dialogue and scenes. I don’t think anything sucks about it, Shakespeare’s characters are always interesting and challenging to play, and unlike some of the other secondary young lovers in Shakespeare’s play, Lucentio and Bianca are not goody-goodies, victims or dupes; we go after what we want despite the trouble we may cause. We’re kind of selfish.

Shay: Well, I think out of the two, we are actually the serious couple. But I think we have a lot of comedic moments between us which were not necessarily written into the script, but that we discovered through the process of our of character building. Yes, we get some good kissing moments but I admit I wouldn’t mind slapping someone around on stage a bit.

A lot of famous lines in Shrew- what’s your favorite one?

Brian: “Tranio, I burn, I pine, I perish, Tranio, / If I achieve not this young modest girl.”

Sam: “I am content to be Lucentio, because so well I love Lucentio.”

Shay: “The more fool you, for laying on my duty.” I enjoy this because I feel like its a moment where Bianca, a newly married woman, shows she can still stand up to the men around her. Stating that she is not just property you can order around and place bet on.

A large selection of beers at our bar- what’s your favorite beer?

Brian: I’m a wimpy beer drinker so Blue Moon, Shock Top or any beer you can put a fruit in!

Sam: Does it need to be one on tap? Cause mine is Oberon from Bell’s Brewery. But I’m sure I’ll find one I love at the bar.

Shay:
I had a chance to take a look at the beer list during tech to better prepare myself for the after party. Though I usually go for a nice white, Belgium beer, one of my favorites is Chimay. But lets be real, Im not picky. Except No IPAs. Ever.

Don’t miss Taming of The Shrew, playing for four nights, starting tonight. Admission is FREE, no reservations necessary, but get there early to ensure a good seat!

Kim Creates Kate

Last week we got to know Paul Jennings, the actor playing Petruchio in our up-coming production of Taming of the Shrew. This week, we’re checking in with Kim Saunders, who will be playing Katherina and making her San Francisco Theater Pub debut.

LCK_9107

So, who are you in a hundred words or less!

I am a native New Yorker and a city girl. My heart belongs to the theatre and has for as long as I can remember. I adore animals and share my home with a cat named Pyewacket and my wonderful husband Ron Talbot (Ed. Note: Ron is playing Gremio in this production). I love being busy and normally will be directing, choreographing, performing and coaching several projects at the same time

And how did you get involved with Theater Pub?

I was lucky enough to be cast at Custom Made Theatre Company in a production of Merchant of Venice. Having made friends with several people in the cast they took me to see last year’s production of Measure for Measure and I loved the entire concept of theatre in a bar! It reminded a bit of the NY Renaissance Faire and murder mysteries but with an amazing script.

What’s got you excited about working here?

So many things! The script, the people I am working with, the role I play and performing in an environment where anything can happen.

What’s got you worried?

The final monologue is so well known and can be interpreted in many ways. I hope that I am able to interpret it so the audience can understand Katherine’s point of view.

Have you ever been in this play (Shrew) before?

No.

What’s your history with this show?

I have always loved this show and the witty repartee between Kate and Petruchio. I have auditioned for it several times but have always been called back for Bianca. Having already done Beatrice in Much Ado About Nothing, this seems like a natural progression and I am excited to take it on!

Shrew is considered controversial- why do you think that is?

The true question is: who tames who? Shakespeare chose to make his heroines remarkable women; if the shrew is truly tamed at the end you have then forced a square peg into a round hole. I don’t think that is what Shakespeare intended. I believe in the end they both have found love and a true partnership. If anything these two are now a force to be reckoned with against the world!

Tell us about your character- what do you love about them?

I love the sparing between my Katherine and Petruchio as well as the ability to use all the physical elements that bring these two to life.

What do you hate about them?

I always want to find the humanity in my characters. How did they become who they are before the play has begun? When playing such a strong character it is sometimes hard for the audience to see the hurt and vulnerability that has brought them to where they are when you (the audience) first meets them.

What do you see as the biggest challenge?

Back to….the final monolgue. Everyone knows it and already has an opinion.

When you go about creating a role, what’s your process, in a nutshell? How do find a way into a character, particularly one written so long ago? 

For me listening and working off other actors, as well as the director’s vision are my favorite ways of finding my way into creating a role. Also many hints are in the text and also in the pauses thanks to the verse! I have several acting techniques in my toolbox if I need them as well.

What do you think this play has for a modern audience? 

Hopefully a great deal of laughter and maybe a new take on the show to start a new conversation!

A lot of famous lines in Shrew- what’s your favorite one?

“If I be waspish best beware my sting.”

A large selection of beers at our bar- what’s your favorite beer?

They keep adding new ones so I just want to keep trying new ones!

Don’t miss Kim, and the rest of this fantastic cast, in Taming of the Shrew, which plays four nights only- March 18, 19, 25 and 27, at 8 PM at the Cafe Royale. No reservations necessary as admission is free (with a suggested five dollar donation at the door), but get there early as we tend to fill up!

Paul Plays Petruchio

In anticipation of our upcoming production of Taming of the Shrew, we caught up with local actor Paul Jennings, who will be playing Petruchio. Last seen at the Pub playing Falstaff in The Boar’s Head, Paul took a moment to talk about what it takes to play one of literature’s most infamous good/bad husbands. 

Paul_Jennings_-_Headshot-1

So, who are you in a hundred words or less!

I am currently a proud Oakland resident, though I was born, and mostly raised in San Francisco. I am also a sometime producer, and frequent actor with a serious Shakespeare habit, having performed in 47 productions of 26 of the plays.

And how did you get involved with Theater Pub?

I first got involved with Theatre Pub when Jessica Richards asked me to audition for Boar’s Head in early 2011. I was cast (as Falstaff) and completely fell in love with the whole thing while doing the show.

What’s got you excited about working here? What’s got you worried?

I love the immediacy of the performance, and the interaction with the audience and the environment – there’s nowhere to hide, and it makes connecting that much easier.  I don’t actually have any worries, simply because, by the nature of the project, the things that could be a concern – all those unknown, uncontrollable variables – are part of the experience.

Have you been in this play before? What’s your history with this show?

This is only my second production of Shrew – I played Grumio ages ago…I was about to comment on the, “only second” because it seems to be such a popular show – but then I realized that it actually *isn’t* performed all that often, especially in the Bay Area. I think this is mainly because it’s a hard show to do without the resulting “misogynist/feminist “dialogue becoming the focal point.

Tell us about your character- what do you love about them, what do you hate about them- what do you see as the biggest challenge?

The thing I hate about Petruchio is less actually about the character, but that he’s typically played along the lines of the hyper-masculine, “I’ll stop drinking just long enough to abuse this woman” performance that Richard Burton gave in the film version, which leads to the (mistaken, I believe) impression that the play is misogynist but I find his overriding trait to be “a complete and total unwillingness to be other than he is” – which is a character trait he shares with Kate, and I think that *this* is a huge part of their mutual attraction.

When you go about creating a role, what’s your process, in a nutshell? How do find a way into a character, particularly one written so long ago?

Leaving my internal process for inhabiting a role aside, for me, the most important thing about finding a character, especially, in Shakespeare, is using the text to inform my choices. I find that pretty much everything the playwright needs us to know is spelled out for us right there, we just have to learn to look for the clues. I find that  choices in the use of words make a world of difference – Do they suddenly shift from the formal ‘you’ to the intimate ‘thou’? Are they echoing their scene partner? Are they shifting from Verse to prose?

What do you think this play has for a modern audience?

I think Shrew, tricky piece that it is, is still tremendously funny – it was, meant to be a comedy, after all – there’s a lot of really witty dialogue, as well as a lot of dialogue that *was* witty – to the cognoscenti of  425 years ago. In addition, I think there’s a lot of truth on a deeper level about human nature– Petruchio basically spells it out:

“…all the world,
That talk’d of her, have talk’d amiss of her:
If she be curst, it is for policy…”

She’s not shrewish by nature, but as a reaction to the unreasonable demands of her family and society, that insist she be who *they* think she should be.

A lot of famous lines in Shrew- what’s your favorite one?

As someone with an almost obsessive love for the period, and the language, the philosophy and classical references found within, I’m afraid to report that my favorite line is a smutty double-entendre that brings out my inner 6th grader:

Lucentio: Spit in the hole, man, and tune again.

A large selection of beers at our bar- what’s your favorite beer?

Guiness!!!

Don’t miss Paul, and the rest of this fantastic cast, in Taming of the Shrew, which plays four nights only- March 18, 19, 25 and 27, at 8 PM at the Cafe Royale. No reservations necessary as admission is free (with a suggested five dollar donation at the door), but get there early as we tend to fill up!

Our Next Show Begins Performances on March 18!

shrew

It’s Kate vs. the World!

When brilliant but brittle Katherina (Kim Saunders)’s younger sister Bianca (Shay Wisniewski) finds herself being courted by three eligible bachelors (Vince Faso, Brian Martin, Ron Talbot), their opportunistic mother (Jan Marsh) lays down the law that Bianca won’t be allowed to marry until Katherina finds a husband. The suitors select Petruchio (Paul Jennings), a money seeking adventurer who might be Kate’s worst nightmare- or the best thing that ever happened to her.

Also featuring Sam Bertken, Shane Rhodes, Sarah Stewart, and directed by Stuart Bousel, this fast and furious production of the classic play will be one part Shakespeare, one part boxing match, and all parts Theater Pub.

The show plays March 18, 19, 25 and 27, at 8 PM at the Cafe Royale. Tickets are free and no reservations are required, but we encourage you to come early, enjoy the pop-up restaurant of the evening, and donate at the door to keep Theater Pub alive!