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The Street Taming of the Shrew – A megera domada de rua (2009), by Ueba Produtos Notáveis.
The theatre group Ueba Produtos Notáveis is a Brazilian street company based in Caxias do Sul (Rio Grande do Sul). Their street production A megera domada (2009), a free adaptation of Shakespeare’s The Taming of the Shrew (1592), displays specificities and motives borrowed from the commedia dell’arte, among them comic/grotesque acting techniques, stereotyped characterization, improvisation and theatre in the round with no separation between audience and performers. Besides recreating the Shakespearean induction – the English travelling players were transformed into a troupe of commedia dell’arte actors – the Ueba street performance complicated identity issues by borrowing ideas and motifs from Carlo Goldoni’s The Servant of Two Masters (1743). They used one actor to incarnate two roles: Grumio, Petruchio’s servant, responsible for most slapstick humor because he interprets his master’s speeches in a most literal way, and Biondello, Lucentio’s second attendant, who always does exactly what he is told, pretending not to know that Tranio, disguised as Lucentio, is not his real master. The versatile actor who played both characters kept exchanging identical masks of different colors to confront the different masters, but most of the time he tended to confuse mask and role, a comic strategy which besides underscoring the motif of mistaken identities, was responsible for most audience laughter. Another inventive device, used to supply the lack of a second actress for enacting Bianca, was the representation of her character by the manipulation of a several dolls, a farcical strategy that offered comments on her own manipulative nature. Catarina’s polemical final discourse was drastically reduced, however all the time her body language contradicted the spoken words to offer evidence that her alleged domestication was part of a seduction game played and consented by husband and wife. In the end, another comic routine invited laughter and applause: Petruchio and Catarina, after many frustrated attempts to kiss, take off their masks that literally and metaphorically prevented them from enjoying their love relationship and seal their truce with a kiss.
More information about the theatre group Ueba Produtos Notáveis can be found on their website <http://www.grupoueba.com.br/>
Production: Ueba Produtos Notáveis.
Performance text: Free adaptation of Shakespeare’s The Taming of the Shrew
Direction: Jessé Oliveira
Costumes: Raquel Cappelletto
Music: Guto Basso
Masks: Manufactured by the Ueba Group, guided by Jessé Oliveira.
Cast: Aline Zilli, Jonas Piccoli, Fernando Gomes, Bruno Zilli, Rodrigo Guidini, Kevin Brezolin, Cleverson Souza.
Stand-by: Guto Basso
Further Reading on Brazilian street theatre
CAMATI, A. S. Brazilian Outdoor Shakespeares: Street Theatre as Public Art. Lapis Lazuli: An International Literary Journal. Commemorating 400 years of Shakespeare, v. 6, n. 1-2, p. 26-33, Spring /Autumn, 2016.
Production notes provided by Anna Stegh Camati.