A Shakespearean dream is realised

WHEN the Groundwork Youth Theatre actors first read The Taming of the Shrew in February last year, little did they imagine what was to come.

From that initial read-through, expecting a fun romantic comedy like 10 Things I Hate About You, they were shocked at the level of violence directed towards the main female character, Katharina, by her husband.

And so they created a whole new play in which they explored community attitudes and the effects of violence on women.

Turning to Gippsland Women’s Health for help, local playwright and theatre director Deirdre Marshall wrote an original play script which combined the voices of the young actors with William Shakespeare’s original text.

This was to create a confronting exploration of the issue, in which modern attitudes to violence against women mirror Elizabethan attitudes to women as the property of men, to be owned and forced to submit if they expressed their own views or a desire to be independent.

Groundwork Youth Theatre performed its play Shakespeare’s Shrew and Other Lies for the opening of the Shakespeare on the River Festival in Stratford last year.

The play was so well received that they were invited back for a return season a month later.

But the story of Shakespeare’s Shrew and Other Lies didn’t end there.

An invitation was extended to the group to take the play to the United Kingdom to perform in Stratford Upon Avon as part of this year’s 400th anniversary activities marking Shakespeare’s death.

The young actors will fly out to represent Australia as part of the Stratfords-of-the-World reunion next week.

During their stay in Shakespeare’s hometown, they will participate in a series of events, culminating in a street parade on April 23  to mark the Bard’s birthday, followed by a performance of their play the next day.

They will also attend a performance by the Royal Shakespeare Company, be taken on a backstage tour of the Royal Shakespeare Theatre, visit Oxford, and tour the Globe Theatre in London before returning to Australia.

Groundwork Youth Theatre is a youth theatre ensemble based in Sale and offers workshops and performance opportunities for young people aged 15 to 25.

For information on how to become involved, phone artistic director Lauren Reid on 0447 220 091 or email director@groundworkyt.com