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First Person: Director Thomas G. Waites Takes on The Taming of the Shrew

The actor/director offers a fresh interpretation of William Shakespeare's classic for TGW Studio at Baruch Performing Arts Center.

Thomas G. Waites directs A Midsummer Night's Dream at Baruch Performing Arts Center.

I chose to direct William Shakespeare's Taming of the Shrew because the journey of romance and love beckoned me. I also delight in a challenge, and The Taming of the Shrew fit the bill. I was forced to use all that I had: mind, body, and spirit, to bring this play to life for my audiences.

The Taming of the Shrew is not a good play, but a great play up there with Hamlet and King Lear. I knew I had great actors: Michael Moss, Elissa Klie, and all the rest, able to realize my vision. Our auditions were not limited to those in Thomas G. Waites Acting Studio. We saw many talented performers but in the end decided to cast Petruchio and Kate from the Studio, which was a great decision. Every actor came through like a dream. I pushed them hard to find comedy, truth, and the spine of the play.

I always begin rehearsals sitting around the table reading the play aloud, discussing the action. But my process begins long before that. I read great literature and listen to NPR and the BBC constantly (my wife nicknamed me "radiohead"). I go for runs in the park and let everything simmer. Eventually my imagination takes shape. I plan as much as I can in advance of getting on the stage but it isn't until I have my actors in front of me that the pieces fall naturally into place.

Directing a play requires that I have an idea, a strong concept. I ask myself, "what is it about this particular story that moves me?" That answer becomes the umbrella under which I create. It guides me throughout the process. It's not just moving people around. There is a specific purpose behind all action on stage, fulfilling the idea. The concept defining the action in this production is the power of love to move beyond the confines of our individual homes and out into the greater society. Katherine is a girl on the precipice of womanhood. Ready to leave the comforts of her home yet fearful of the unknown. Her fears cause her to lash out. And Petruchio's insecurities cause him to adopt a tough exterior. Their mutual taming is a journey of finding love and allowing this love to change them. By the end neither Petruchio or Kate remains as they began.

About Taming of the Shrew in particular, a man finds a wife, changes her, and in turn, he too is changed. He teaches her how to appreciate life and how to live. She teaches him how to truly love. One can take issue with his methods, but what results is pure, unadulterated, harmonious love between two people. Love is a sacrifice and sacrifice is necessary for love, but the purpose is worthwhile as it illuminates and enlightens our days on earth. Sacrifice for the purpose of the other is always sweeter than for the self alone.

As an acting teacher, I push my students to get out in front of an audience and perform. Scene study in a classroom is important but it isn't until you land in front of the paying public that you put your craft to the test. I am thrilled with this production and excited to share it with theater lovers throughout the New York area. Come take a romantic journey with us and bring your friends.

The cast of The Taming of the Shrew, directed by Thomas G. Waites, at Baruch Performing Arts Center.
(© Sydney Angel Photography)