Friday, August 20, 2010

Books - Day 14 -- favorite character

Day 14 – Favorite character in a book (of any sex or gender)

Probably my favorite character of all time is Katherine (Kate) from Shakespeare's "The Taming of the Shrew." I love her strength, her wily, opinionated, vulnerable dialogue. I love her spirit and her temper. I love her independence, her interdependence, and that she does not, in the end, lose that spirit.

While the gender relationships in the play have been debated for centuries, I have always believed that at the end Kate and Petruchio are equals, each well suited to the other, a
nd have found a comfortable relationship through their jabs and jests. Yet they respect who the other is, I believe, and relish that.

My dad read me this play when I was young, along with others of his favorites, and that has always colored my enjoyment of Shakespeare. He taught me that Shakespeare must be taught as theatre first, and that you truly cannot understand the plays unless you can visualize the staging. When I took a Shakespeare class in college, the teacher was all about the etymology of the words and phrases, and it took the joy out of it. When I taught it to high schoolers, we usually read it out loud and always had a model of the Globe Theatre handy for reference, as well as special projects about the times, the audiences, the actors, and the theatre itself.

It was the one role I always wanted to play and never have, save for a scene done in high school during a variety show for the student body. I loved every line of the dialogue: "
If I be waspish, best beware my sting!"

I loved the Burton-Taylor coupling in the 1967 Franco Zeffirelli version and the lush colors and textures of the film. The lighting was a photographer's dream -- warm, deep, and vividly enhancing the landscapes, the costumes, and the sets. I loved the chemistry between the two fiery actors and the nuances of their interpretation of their characters. Given their passionate, often tumultuous relationship off-screen, this play might well have been written for them

My daughter's middle name is Kate, so named after this independent, spirited woman who ended up in a deeply loving relationship of equals. May that eventually be so.

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