The Taming of the Shrew
More grown up than Juliet and her Romeo, even feistier than Beatrice and Benedick, less resplendent than Cleopatra and Antony, but more empathetic than Lady Macbeth and her man, this couple of shrews, Katherina and Petruchio, tame each other. “My tongue will tell the anger of my heart, or else my heart, concealing it, will break."
For a detailed synopsis, see Wikipedia.
The Oxford English Dictionary tells us that the word shrew originally applied to a man: A wicked, evil-disposed, or malignant man; a mischievous or vexatious person; a rascal, villain. This was the case up to the late seventeenth century, although by Shakespeare's time it was also applied to women: A person, esp. a woman given to railing or scolding. Because the word applied to both men and women, we must wonder just who is the shrew in the title?
For those of you who provide parts a scene at a time, this Character Chart shows all the characters' lines in each scene: The Taming of the Shrew
If your group reads the plays straight through in one sitting and you want to divide up the parts, we have a number of “cast” lists already divided up for you. These are text files that you can edit to suit your group. We always recommend in a straight-through read that each participant take a moment beforehand to mark their parts—then everything proceeds so smoothly.
The University of Virginia offers a series of short articles that poke into such things as women speaking their minds, courtship, social order, the induction scenes, and more.
The links below are to a brilliant documentary on a NY Shakespeare in the Park performance of Taming of the Shrew with Meryl Streep and Raul Julia that contests many preconceived notions about this controversial play. I highly suggest you watch both parts!
This is an audio recording of the play by professional actors with sound effects.