In act 5 scene 1 how would you direct the characters use of body language, facial expressions and vocals to create a comical response from the audience? Outline your casting decisions. * Merchants worry ‘’what’s he that knocks as he would beat down the gate * Merchants shock ‘’ay sir so his mother says if I may believer her * Vincentio’s worry ‘’O he hath murdered his master * Tranio’s exaggeration ‘’sir, what are you that offer to beat MY servent’’ In act 5 Scene 1 of Taming of the shrew comedy is created in Shakespeare’s usual way; through confusion and deception.
The characters creating the most comical responses for the audience are the merchant, Vincentio and Petruchio who I will direct to over exaggerate their body language and facial expressions to create a comedic response; in fitting with Shakespeare’s aims to create a play of a comic genre. I will cast the Merchant as an extremely poor man, therefore creating comedy due to the irony he is nothing like the man he is impersonating, and create Vincentio as an extremely wealthy and tall man (giving him power through levels); creating comedy through contrast with his supposed ‘’lookalike. ’’
At the beginning of Act five Scene one the audience instantly see the actor playing the merchant, placed on an apron stage (to keep the historical nature of the piece) overcome with worry. As the actor playing the merchant says the line ‘’what’s he that knocks as he would beat down the gate’’ I will direct the actor to pace ridiculously quickly around the stage whilst running his hands rapidly through his hair; over exaggerating the merchants worry and stress. I will also direct him to speak with an overly fast pace, extremely high pitch and quiet volume; conveying the merchant is stressed about being found out.
I will also ask him to sigh in an over exaggerated fashion whilst darting his head around in a worried fashion; to convey the merchant is nervous about being found out (he thinks if he’s found in Padua he will be killed due to Tranio’s earlier claims) This use of over exaggeration of the merchants panic will create a comical response from the audience due to the dramatic irony that we know this panic is unnecessary after being told earlier in the play it was all a ploy.
This over exaggeration is in fitting with Shakespeare plays at the time of the Elizabethans in which the actors used to over exaggerate profusely to create comedy; therefore the modern audience can experience comedy in the same way. On the arrival of Lucentio’s real father, Vincentio, the audience will laugh at the merchant’s over exaggerated nervousness and his extreme attempts to portray a posh father – Vincentio.
As the merchant speaks to Vincentio saying ‘’Ay, sir, so his mother says,’’ I will direct the actor to use an overly articulate voice, a slow pace and a high pitch; conveying his attempts to be a man of high status but also his underlying nervousness. I will direct him to thrust his chest forward, purse his lips and flourish his hands to communicate to the audience he is trying to be a man of wealth.
This will create comedy due to the contrast in his usual physicality and personality, seen earlier in the scene, in which I would have directed him to have an extremely common accent, hunched back, and deliver little eye contact; conveying he is a nervous old man. This will then be contrasted, creating a comical response, as I direct him in a way to make him over exaggerate to attempt to be a man of high wealth. A comical response will be created when the audience see his over exaggerated attempt to be someone he is not – especially as he is a bad representation of what he’s trying to be.
When Vincentio first sees Tranio, pretending to be his son Lucentio, he is in complete shock as he thinks his son has been murdered by Tranio and his personality taken. As he says the line ‘’O! He hath murdered his master’’ I will direct Vincentio to hold his hand up to his head, in an over dramatic fashion, and faint over-exaggeratedly; in a slapstick comedy fashion. This is in fitting with how comedy was once created and I would like to bring this to a modern day audience so they can experience the same comedy.
I will also direct the actor to make his voice tremble, to use an overly high pitch and grasp his mouth with his hand; conveying Vincentio is completely dumb struck. As well as this the farcical nature of the play will be highlighted as I direct the character of Sly, who is sitting in the audience on the stage (where they would have been sat in the times this was first performed – retaining the old fashioned style) to jump out of his seat. I would then direct him to fall to the floor clasping his belly, smacking the floor with is hand and gasping for breath as he uncontrollably laughs. The audience may feel sympathy for Vincentio’s worry, which is not the intended effect; therefore sly laughing will remind the audience this is only an inset play, making the audience be able to laugh without feeling guilty as they know it isn’t real. Vincentio and Sly’s use of over exaggeration, in a slapstick style, will create comedy due to the exaggeration and the dramatic irony that Vincentio has lost the composure he has had previously in the play over a matter that the audience know is not real.
As Tranio, pretending to be Lucentio, enters the stage I will direct him in a way to create a comical response due to his bad interpretation of Lucentio; who we have seen previously in the play. As the actor walks on to the stage saying the line ‘’Sir, what are you that offers to beat my servant’’ I will direct the actor to walk with a slow pace, in an almost over exaggerated waltz fashion; to convey the Tranio is over-playing his attempts to be Lucentio (of higher status).
I will direct him to use flourishing hand gestures, which he will sometimes over exaggerate and smack himself in the face by accident, conveying the Tranio is not used to doing it; creating comedy. I will also ask him to over articulate his words, and put on Lucentio’s Italian accent; creating comedy as it falters and Tranio looks nervous when his real voice sometimes breaks through his fake accent.
As he says the word ‘my’ I will direct the actor playing Tranio to use intonation whilst winking at the audience (creating a comedic response through direct address involving the audience in the joke) and shrug his shoulders and smile afterwards; conveying he is gloating as he thinks he’s got away with it. This will create a comical response for the audience due to Tranio’s bad interpretation and arrogance that he has mistakenly thought that his impression was believable; his naivety creates a comical response.
At the end of Act 5 Scene 1 Katherina and Petruchio run on stage. I would have cast Katherina to been acted by a girl rather than a boy, like in Elizabethan times, due to the modern audience being able to relate better to a more realistic character. I would direct the actress playing Katherina to appear over –exaggeratedly nervous as I direct the actor playing Petruchio to harshly ask her to ‘’kiss me kate. ’’ To fit with the farcial nature of he direction of the scene after a long pause in which Katherina looks nervous, creating tension as the audience don’t know what happen, I will direct the actress playing kate to suddenly say with a loud volume ‘’Nay I will give thee a kiss’’ whilst dragging Petruchio to the floor in an over dramatic fashion. I will direct the actress to grasp Petruchio’s face whilst kissing him all over as she lies on top of him on the floor; conveying Katherina’s surprising dominance.
This will create comedy due to the audience’s surprise due to her prior nervousness suddenly being overruled due to her passion for an intimate moment. It will also create comedy as in this era men were the dominant sex and therefore her suddenly reversing the stereotype and being dominant will be a surprise for the audience. (It will also create a comical response as I would have cast her with a small physique – creating laughter due to her being able to take him to the floor. )