Rita Kohn

The Tamer Tamed

Butler University Theatre

Directed by John Green

Through March 4

Laura Kautza is one of the cast members in the all-female ensemble in Butler University's production of 'The Tamer Tamed.'

The Tamer Tamed at Butler University Theatre is a masterfully, sensually integrated production in the traditions of renowned Indian dance masters Uday Shanker and Rabindranath Tagore.

John Green's choice of setting and delivery for this 400-year-old play effectively circles the wagons in the omnipresent struggle surrounding gender equality/respect.

As a dramatic dance, Melli Hoppe's choreography flows naturally from an ensemble representative of a group of Muslim women who meet to study John Fletcher's play.

Robert Koharchik effectively utilizes the set from the production of The Taming of the Shrew, while integrating the cultural elements of fire, water, earth, space and sky. Masks and puppets designed by Joanna Winston and Patrick Weigand, respectively, are stunning. Tatiana Grubisich's costume and makeup design both divine and expound the aesthetics of Green's choice to cast the play entirely with women.

In adapting Fletcher's epilogue to Shakespeare's Shrew as an Indian-style dance drama, Green creates a mesmerizing production. India's dance has perfected a precise and overarching stylistic language transmitted through the body as a whole but especially through the hands and feet. Traditionally, a story is sung and simultaneously enacted through choreographed movement that includes stylized mime and a system of gestures as language. Thus, even though some of the actors at the Feb. 23 performance have not yet mastered the craft of clear projection, the intent of the speech is evident. The actors have absorbed the imperative techniques of movement, pantomime and dance, head and facial expressions and the emotional state of the characters.

The production beautifully incorporates the elements of sound and decor essential to dance drama. At the outset, the stage is inhabited by two figures in harnesses - one in silver, one in gold - perhaps as Eros and Aphrodite, perhaps as Siva and Parvati. Their movements are suggestive of love-seeking. A cluster of women move to the rhythm of ocean waves. Two walls of the theater show excerpts from Shrew. All the senses are engaged.

The story unfolds. Kate is dead. Petruchio has taken a second wife. His friends pity her. Yet, wait - what have we here in this supposedly meek woman - a compatriot to Bianca? A proto-feminist? In the design, the audience is given a role in the performance. As the tamer is led to achieve harmony, equilibrium, tranquility, to gain the capacity for introspection and growth, this fine production does indeed move effectively from the vision of the artist, to the execution of the vision and finally to the evocation of the same aesthetic experience in the audience. Seeing the white light of luminosity in the inner eye is truly a gift to take from The Tamer Tamed as here presented.

Continues March 1-4 at 8 p.m. and March 5 at 2 p.m. at Lilly Hall Theatre. Tickets at 317-940-9659,


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