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Character and Process Questions with Jackie Frid

Character Questions:

1. Pick three adjectives that describe your (major) character and explain why you chose them.

The three adjectives I would pick for my character of Bianca would be playful, slightly manipulative, and stealthily shrewish. I'm guessing the last two aren't normally thought of for her, but as a fan of this play since I was a child, I saw her in many different lights as I grew. She's playful in how she interacts with others, with the air of sweet innocence, she teases her sister and the men trying to court her. She's a bit manipulative, as she has managed to wrap everyone around her finger, except for Kate, who seems to be the only one to know the real her. She covers her shrewishness with sweetness and a smile, but as seen in the play, she knows what she wants, and while playing nice, she also can bring a man down as in Act III Scene 1, where she admonishes "Licio", whom I'm sure she knows is really Hortensio, telling him he's not to her liking, especially using his "gamut" against him. "Call you this gamut? Tut, I like it not, old fashions please me best, I'm not so nice to trade true rules for old inventions." Her more shrewish side, however, isn't revealed until the last scene, where she is visibly upset by her wedding feast being interrupted by the widow and Kate going after each other, proclaiming "Head and butt! An hasty-witted body would say your head and butt were head and horn!"

2. Tell the story of the play from your character’s perspective.

The play's story from Bianca's point of view would definitely be that it's all about her, and her struggle to get married since her shrew sister is in her way. Even Kate's wedding would be about her uneasily watching, to make sure it happens, clearing her way to marry Lucentio, whom she had finally fallen in love with. The second half of the play would be the dramatic tale of how she secretly married her love, and how all was revealed to her father, that Cambio was the real Lucentio. And in the final scene, I imagine she sees her wedding feast ruined by Kate and the widow arguing at each other.

3. What physical/vocal choices have you made for this character and why?

My physical and vocal choices for Bianca were somewhat thought out ahead of time. She's young, so I made my voice lighter, and just a hair higher and playful. As for her physical nature, I tried to put in an energetic stance, while still keeping her proper and modest in physical behaviors. She was brought up as a lady, after all, yet, I think she'd have an underlying playfulness.

Process Questions:

2. When creating a Shakespeare character, do you start from the "outside" (voice and physicality) or the "inside" (relationships and motivations)? Why?

How I create a Shakespearean character varies from one role to another. For Bianca, I felt the need to look deeper into her relationships and motivations, going past the face-value of being the cute, innocent one. She reads as a more complex character once you study her interactions with her sister. I noted that even in the first scene, Kate knows more is going on with Bianca than what anyone else knows, so I began there, and worked with that. She also shows preferential treatments towards Lucentio as opposed to Grumio in Act III, Scene 1, showing that she is polite to both, but the can make biting comments as well.

4. What is your favorite Shakespearean "Original Practice" (audience contact, cross-gendered casting, live music and sound, etc.) and what exactly do you love about it?

My favorite original practice is cross-gendered casting. I love the idea that it opens the door to playing more roles, and I have to say it's fun taking on the role of a male character, to see what I can make of it.

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