PAE’s 2015 Summer Shakespeare Touring Show director of The Taming of the Shrew–Patrick Walsh
Hello Shakespeare lovers everywhere! I am delighted to be back to share with you a recent interview I did with Portland Actors Ensemble’s 2015 Summer Shakespeare Touring Show director, Patrick Walsh, who is gearing up to direct The Taming of the Shrew.
Today Patrick is going to share his thoughts with us about his work on PAE’s upcoming production of The Taming of the Shrew.
(Athena McElrath—AM) Hello Patrick! Tell us a little bit about the world of the play for this version of The Taming of the Shrew?
(Patrick Walsh—PW) While reading TAMING OF THE SHREW, I noticed how many similarities existed between Padua and Venice in THE MERCHANT OF VENICE. Both places are described largely as places that are transactionary in nature. Everything is based on money and your worth in that society is based on how much you can make for someone else. It’s a scary, ugly place to live if you do not subscribe to that belief system.
(AM) What was your first introduction to Shakespeare, and what kind of an impact did it have on you?
(PW) My first introduction to Shakespeare was working on ROMEO AND JULIET in the 8th grade. I hated it and I hated working on JULIUS CAESEAR and HAMLET in high School. It wasn’t until I directed my first classical production (MACBETH in 2012) that I truly appreciated the power of the text. It is meant to be performed. This crystalized the fact for me that dramatic poetry should never be judged apart from the action that it implies.
(AM) Can you tell us a little bit about how the depiction of women in your production of The Taming of the Shrew will be handled? Is this an exercise in misogyny, or a love story about a man liberating a woman? Or something different?
(PW) I think that the play is often seen and presented as a misogynistic fantasy of some kind. I have no interest in exploring that. To me the story of TAMING OF THE SHREW is a story about two outsiders who come together and search for a way to reconcile their feelings for one another despite their upbringings. I’ve been using the tagline “We aren’t bad people we just come from a bad place” with my design team.
(AM) What Shakespeare play is your favorite to watch, and which is your favorite to perform in or direct?
(PW) My favorite play of Shakespeare’s is KING LEAR. I think that it is just about perfect. As for plays that I would love to direct? I currently think I am in a really good place to deliver an amazing MERCHANT OF VENICE, WINTER’S TALE, TEMPEST, or TITUS ANDRONICUS.
(AM) What attracted you to directing this play?
(PW) I have always thought that this play has the opportunity for hilarity. It’s quick and the language is full of puns and word play. But, I think that this play is largely taken as a puff piece, where the characters are one-dimensional or as some sort of misogynistic fantasy. I really want to show that this play can be mined for emotional depth as well as hilarity. I think people have misjudged it for too long. It needs balance.
(AM) Briefly describe your rehearsal process—how do you get from the first table ready to opening night in a short rehearsal time frame?
(PW) As a general rule, I don’t spend a lot of time at the table. I find that questions are better asked and answered in the moment. I try to craft a really open rehearsal process. I’m not dictatorial in nature. My favorite part of the process is “figuring out” the play with a room full of smart people.
(AM) When working on a play like The Taming of the Shrew, how do you generate ideas? What process do you go through?
(PW) I read the play 5 or 6 times without making any sort of judgment call on it. I really try to get a feel for the entire world of the play. After that I think about what I’m interested in exploring in the play. I crystalize that down to what I term an “Organizing Principle.” I then present that to my design team along with a few items (usually poetry or a painting) and then we begin to dissect what the visual world of the play is. Great ideas can come from anywhere and I think the true job of a director is opening up the creative potential of everyone involved. That’s what I try to do.
(AM) Is there anything else you’d like to add that I’ve not asked? Please do so!
(PW) I think that this whole process is going to be a lot of fun. We’ll be exploring a play that has some misconceptions about it and bringing out the truth of what it truly is. I’m so excited to get started and hope that everyone will audition!
Thank you so much, Patrick!
Actors–this weekend Portland Actors Ensemble will be holding auditions for both of our 2015 Summer productions of Macbeth and The Taming of the Shrew. Auditions will be held on Saturday, January 31st and Sunday, February 1st from 1-4pm on both days by appointment only. Please bring 2 headshots and resumes if you are auditioning for both, 1 headshot and resume for auditioning for a specific show. Prepare up to two minutes of classical monolgue(s). Musicians are encouraged to audition as well. Please bring an instrument and be ready to play/sing. Auditions will be held at Concordia University, Fine Arts Building, corner of NE 27th Ave and NE Highland St. For more information and to schedule an audition time, please contact Patrick J. Cox, Operations Director, 503-729-4511,
Portland Actors Ensemble’s 2015 Outdoor Summer Twilight Tragedy of Macbeth will play from June 18-July 25 in the Lone Fir Pioneer Cemetery in SE Portland, and the 2015 Summer Touring production of The Taming of the Shrew, directed by Patrick Walsh, will play from July 11-September 7 throughout the Portland metro area. Please watch our website for more specific schedule information, dates and times of all performances.
We hope to see you in the audience this summer!
Have any questions about The Taming of the Shrew? We’d love to hear about it down in the comments, so feel free to stop by and say hi!
Till next time,
Take pains; be perfect; adieu!Athena McElrath is an actor and singer who is also a Board member with Portland Actor’s Ensemble. She helps PAE with social media and educational outreach. She often works onstage with her husband, K.J. McElrath, in their cabaret act, called McElrath Cabaret, which features songs from classic Broadway, Hollywood and Tin Pan Alley. For more: http://mcelrathcabaret.com/