Tuesday, October 27, 2009

What are you, 8 years old?

We went to a discussion panel on The Taming of the Shrew last night. Most of the discussion presumed that everyone is an adult: the characters, the actors, the playwright, and the play’s intended audience. Maybe the play is more palatable, though, as a young child’s imagining of courtship and gender roles. Kids naturally play at adult situations and adult experiences, and we don’t expect them to be an accurate mirror (though their inaccuracies sometimes illuminate and frequently entertain).

One person at the discussion related his experience as a Peace Corps volunteer in a small African village, having teenaged students tell him that their culture’s family structure entailed complete subservience of the wife to the husband. The teens were completely consistent and, unsurprisingly, wrong. The striking mistake is that the adult believed the teens, even if only for a while. We make a similar mistake when we treat the play as an adult representation of adult relationships.

No comments: