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Production Spotlight: Abby Rowold on SHEatre’s Inauguration Day Reading of Lauren Gunderson’s “The Taming”

Theater companies all around the country are taking playwright Lauren Gunderson up on her offer to stage a reading of her play, The Taming, for free on Inauguration Day. We asked Artistic Director Abby Rowold to talk with us about her experience putting together a reading of The Taming at SHEatre Theatre in Cincinnati, Ohio.

Abby Headshot No NameWhat does your company have planned for Inauguration Day?

SHEatre has a hyooge (huge) celebration planned! We have food donated from local businesses, signature drinks, art by local female art students, the reading of The Taming, and finally a Hamilton lip sync contest! All of the donations collected will go to Planned Parenthood of Southwest Ohio.

How did you decide on The Taming as the right play for your particular theater company at this particular moment in time?

I think our audience made the decision for us. Our audience is smart. (Also, The Know theatre is letting us use their space because they are generous and awesome, but also because they are Gunderson fanatics. They’ve produced Silent Sky, and Toil and Trouble.)

Do you have a favorite line or moment from the play?

The ether dream is a brilliant way for Patricia to confront “herself.” I love how it exposes the rigidity of the agenda she has been pushing on behalf of her boss, and then how that agenda conflicts with her own political ideals.

What do you think makes The Taming different than other plays with a political bent?

The Taming does not take itself too seriously nor does it bog you down with minutia—it manages to make its point with tons of humor. Also, it is a story told by women only.

Sheatre_TamingPoster realIf someone who has a different political view than yours were to attend the reading, do you think there’s something in the play that they could connect to?

This is what amazed me about the play. It is tough on everyone. The conservative character is the heart of the play—she is who we identify with throughout. The Taming discusses things that I think anyone of any political leaning should be concerned about. It is really about political purity…what did the founding fathers really want for our country and did they succeed? And it is through compromise and listening that problems are solved. Ms. Gunderson certainly does not hold back any punches from the liberal character either. Bianca is not even remotely portrayed as the hero. The play is as complicated as our government. There are no easy answers to any of our problems, and Ms. Gunderson does a magnificent job of pointing this out.

What advice would you give to other theatre companies about to do a reading or production of The Taming

Do it now. The political climate requires it.

Have current events shifted what your plans and goals are for your theater company? If so, how does this reading fit into those plans?

It’s funny you should ask that…yes. I was wondering if we needed to keep going, what was SHEatre providing to the community that wasn’t already there? I’ve never been much interested in just providing entertainment. I am planning on this reading being our best attended event yet, and it is because it is based in activism.

When Pat gets knocked out with ether, she dreams that she’s James Madison—which president do you think you would be if you had an ether hallucination?

Madame President Ruth Bader Hillary Eleanor Roosevelt Obama.

You can find out more about SHEatre Theatre and their reading of The Taming at SHEatreTheatre.org and Facebook.com/sheatretheatre. For information on other planned readings of The Taming around the country, visit here.

 

 

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