CULTURE

A Shakespearean view of the eternal battle of the sexes

There is nothing traditional in the staging of Shakespeare’s «Taming of the Shrew» by the National Theater at the Kotopouli Stage, starring Karyofyllia Karabeti and Akis Sakellariou. Director Constantinos Arvanitakis explained that the cast’s work during rehearsals resulted in a «not really experimental, but challenging reading of the play, meaning that it requires a lucid audience.» «The National Theater’s artistic director, Yiannis Houvardas, told me to do whatever I wanted, that I didn’t have to produce a comedy, I could do it as dark as I liked,» he said. «So we moved entirely freely. I realize, of course, that we are playing on a large stage, which demands something commercial.» «I usually do the translation myself. I believe it is 50 percent of the direction. My job as an interpreter is to try to understand the author’s intentions and to set them in special circumstances every time.» «I haven’t changed the play,» Arvanitakis said when asked if he has given it a modern setting, «but a play can naturally have different interpretations. I tried to render what the playwright says in terms of the present.» «We are obliged to address today’s audience, so we have to change some things. It is much more interesting to see the relationship between the sexes today and what a ‘shrew’ means now.» «Katherina is a smart and intellectual woman, on a higher level than the men around her and she is not willing to reduce herself to their level to make them feel good. They feel insecure and label her a ‘shrew.’ She gets trapped by that label and a vicious cycle is created where each fears the other. That is much the case with dynamic women today who have to move in competitive circles.» «For some, I may have committed a crime against Shakespeare, but you can’t work in constant fear of what people are going to say. «For me, the whole performance is about a man’s perspective today and about the way others see us. Petruchio liberates Katherina, instead of repressing her, because he can see she is clever and dynamic, but trapped by her image.»