Who is better Shakespeare or Shaw

425 years ago"The Taming of the Shrew" performed for the first time

"I had to discuss with the head of the theater studies department at the Leipzig Theater Academy whether Petruchio's is an oppression of women or whether it is love," says Dieter Dorn. As a precaution, the later theater director never directed William Shakespeare's early comedy "The Taming of the Shrew" himself after completing his studies.

Today, a completely different question arises for every director who follows the playwright faithfully: How do I get out of the theater alive after the performance? A tried and tested trick: the male and female roles are simply swapped. For this Petruchio, seen in the light of day, is a sadist and torturer who forces his bride Katharina - a pretty tough young woman - under his thumb by brainwashing, food and sleep deprivation.

"That is the way of forcing a woman through love. This is how I bend her stubborn stubbornness. Whoever knows how to tame the stubborn better, may be kind enough to tell me to be comfortable," it says in the play.

"No man of any decency can watch it to the end in the company of a woman without being embarrassed by the Lord-of-Creation morality ..." wrote George Bernard Shaw of Shakespeare's dressage play as early as 1897. Such scruples were of course not known 300 years ago.

Shakespeare used various literary models

In 1594, theater-obsessed London, the plague was just over, Shakespeare's play "In Versen und Prosa" premiered on June 13th at Newington Butts Playhouse, well out on the south bank of the Thames, according to the business diary of theater entrepreneur Philip Henslowe.

At Henslowe, however, it says "The Taming of the Shrew". Such an - anonymous - piece also existed, but Newington Butts was played, the detectives agree, "The Taming of the Shrew" from the pen of Shakespeare.

The combined - and "refined" - three different literary models for his comedy. Socrates and his wife Xanthippe are the godfathers of the two fighting cocks Katharina and Petruchio, as the following excerpt shows:

"Dear God, how bright and friendly the moon shines." "The moon? The sun! The moon isn't shining now."

"I'll tell you honey, it's the moon that shines."

"And I'll say it again. It's the sun."

"With my mother's son, and that's me: The moon should be, the stars or whatever I want. Always just contradiction and contradiction."

Idea of ​​the prelude from "Fairy Tales from 1001 Nights"

The intimate play about the last word in the fresh marriage frames a farce like from the Commedia dell'arte. Katharina's younger sister Bianca is besieged almost around the clock by cardboard comrade suitors, intrigued and real, but is only allowed to marry in the Padua of the Renaissance when the rebellious firstborn is under the hood.

The story can be read in a very similar way in the Italian poet Ludovico Ariosto. And the idea of ​​the prelude comes from the "Fairy Tales from 1001 Nights": The drunken tinker Sly is joked into a princely bed and is exclusively presented with "The Taming of the Shrew" by a traveling drama troupe.

For Friedrich Gundolf, literary spokesman for the Weimar Republic, Shakespeare tied a brilliant bouquet of everything: "The scenic polyphony, the light movement of various figures in the lively, never slack or strained play of opposites of temperaments, moods and classes surpasses all earlier orchestras of the English stage. "

"The Taming of the Shrew" quickly became a street sweeper of Elizabethan theater. Shakespeare had been dead for seven years when "The Taming of the Shrew" was first printed in 1623 in the so-called First Folio. The playwright himself had left nothing handwritten - except for a will with the famous "second best bed" for his wife.

Not only makes romantics blush

Incidentally, "The Taming of the Shrew" is not about love at all: Bianca's suitors, as undisguised dowry hunters, fall so with the door into the house of the bride's father, Baptista - that not only makes romantics blush. The biggest offense, however, is the famous final monologue, the total capitulation of the "tamed" Katharina:

"Learn from me to serve the husband. I put my hands under his feet, him, the husband whom I greet as lord."

Despite the crude message, the - or the stubborn - is still tamed on all stages of the world - as an opera, ballet or film. "Look to Shakespeare," says Cole Porter's musical "Kiss me Kate". Yes, if it were that easy!