- This event has passed.
Research Colloquium: Dr Hannah Robbins
November 19, 2019 @ 5:15 pm - 6:30 pmFree
Dr Hannah Robbins (University of Nottingham) | “Too Darn Hot”: Cultural Tensions and Personal Identity in Kiss Me, Kate
Contemporary reception to Cole Porter and Bella Spewack’s Kiss Me, Kate is centred in the musical’s association with Shakespeare’s controversial play The Taming of the Shrew. Following the interpersonal mishaps of the actors appearing in a new musical of Shakespeare’s Shrew, Kiss Me, Kate examines relationships, sex, and performance “on-” and “off-” stage. While the writers deliberately created brassy and empowered female leads who redefine Shakespeare’s Katherine and Bianca, the musical’s finale necessitates a performance of Katherine’s infamous speech, which advocates female subjugation. This catalyst for a “happy ending” has directed critics to identify Kiss Me, Kate as a dated “problem text” at a time where female agency in the performing arts is under particular scrutiny.
Through the themes of adapting the Taming of the Shrew, performing gendered power, and representing identity, this talk considers how Porter and Spewack comment on theatricality and personal identity in Kiss Me, Kate. It exploits previously overlooked sources from archives including the Library of Congress and the New York Public Library to demonstrate how the production team examined the gendered issues in Shakespeare’s Shrew. In so doing, it highlights how the different creative forces behind this show incorporated satire and an internal commentary, which addresses wider themes, including personal agency and wider social equality.
About the Colloquia
The Colloquia feature leading figures, as well as younger scholars, from across the world. They present their research in papers on all kinds of music-related topics. Graduate students Annabelle Page and Emma Kavanagh organise the series. Presentations are followed by discussion and a drinks reception.