It won’t have Heath Ledger serenading Julia Stiles on a set of high school bleachers, but “The Taming of The Shrew” is coming to Jackson.
The oft-told Shakespearean tale is being presented by Off Square Theatre Company for its fourth annual Thin Air Shakespeare production.
“Taming of the Shrew” is a romantic comedy that tells the tale of stubborn outsiders Kat and Petruchio. Kat is determined to never marry, but Petruchio manages to woo her. At that same time both are dealing with Kat’s sister, Bianca, and her annoying suitors.
But this is not “Shakespeare in traditional Elizabethan costumes,” second-time guest director Edgar Landa said. “No one is speaking in a British accent.
“We were trying to figure out a way to create a world where Kat and Petruchio are outsiders, which is why they fall for each other, and so we thought maybe they could be punk rockers, outsiders in a world where that was new and outside the norm,” Landa said. “For me that world was an early 1980s pastel-colored world where they stood out as punks.”
The 1980s take will feature spikes, pastel Polo shirts and some skateboards.
“We’re not trying to present your traditional Elizabethan Shakespeare, so it’s about finding fun ways to make the text and play accessible,” said Natalia Duncan Macker, Off Square Theatre Company’s artistic director.
This isn’t the first time Off Square has had fun with Shakespeare. Last year’s production of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” was set in the Old West.
The casting for “The Taming of the Shrew” began in February. The show features actors from Jackson, Chicago and Los Angeles. Landa is from LA, too.
“It’s bigger, more familiar,” Landa said of his second time around. “I understand, I think, how this place works and what we can do and what the audience expects.”
The play will be performed outside on a newly built stage right by the Center Theater. It will be family-friendly and free to attend.
You can bring your own picnic, or bid on one during the Bard Basket Picnic Auction, which is occurring now online at BiddingOwl.com. The proceeds go to Thin Air Shakespeare.
The play has a preview Friday, then runs Saturday to Sunday and July 15 to 17. All showings are at 7:30 p.m.