Shakspere Society of Philadelphia
Maybe not the first, but the oldest Shakespeare club in America or possibly even the world, has kept minutes for over a hundred fifty years.
MEETING OF THE SHAKSPERE SOCIETY OF PHILADELPHIA AT THE FRANKLIN INN CLUB, MARCH 19, 2003
Dean Wagner in the chair. Other members present: Ake, Bartlett, Bornemann, Cheston, Cramer, Dunn, Fallon, Griffin, Hanna, Hopkinson, Ingersoll, Lehmann, Mabry, Peck, Pope, Schmalzbach, Warden.
The Dean wondered whether we should make a point of avoiding dinner meetings on Ash Wednesday, which we do not schedule as a meeting date most seasons. The collective feeling was that this was not an issue that concerned most members. Those who feel strongly should contact the Dean.
The Rt. Rev. Mr. Bartlett summarized the report of his membership committee, stressing that their recommendations were guidelines, not rigid rules binding the Society's hands. We should take care not to expand membership much beyond our present numbers, since a fairly small number at dinners enhances comradeship, or so many feel. We encourage visits by guests as a source of enrichment of our discussions, but without suggesting to visitors that they might become members.
When a candidate for membership is to be voted on, the Secretary will notify all members well ahead of the meeting at which a vote is to take place. The candidate will have both a sponsor and a seconder, and the sponsor will make sure that several members have had a chance to get to know the candidate better than one can by a quick exchange of pleasantries over cheese before dinner. Voting will be by written messages sent to the Dean before the dinner of the vote, and by written vote at the dinner meeting when the vote is held. Election will be by a majority of those voting, which will include affirmative votes by at least fifteen members.
It was agreed that it would be in the best interests of the Society to seek out Shakspere lovers with academic expertise in English Renaissance studies as potential candidates for membership.
The Dean recommended, after hearing from a number of members about the issue of the plays to be read next season, that in 2003-2004, we read Macbeth and As You Like It, with perhaps two meetings in the middle of the season devoted to scenes from Timon of Athens, which the Society has not read in fifty years. Members present cordially agreed with this plan.
We began our evening's reading of The Taming of the Shrew at the start of Act Four, Scene Two. The two continuing main currents of the action are Petruchio's campaign to tame the shrewish Kate, whom he has just married, and the competition among several ardent wooers to capture the beautiful Bianca, Kate's younger sister, now available for marriage since Kate has been to the altar. The wily servant Tranio, pretending to be his master Lucentio, has won the assent of Bianca's father to marriage with him by boasting of his father's enormous wealth. Lucentio's father, however, must personally guarantee Bianca a huge dowry before a wedding can take place. While Tranio--in disguise-- searches out a Pedant to play father Vincentio--in disguise--Lucentio woos and wins Bianca--in disguise! The Vice Dean commented that, watching the action on stage, the audience is constantly at sea trying to remember true identities. Petruchio, too, is playing a part in acting like a madman to shock Kate into yielding to his will, whatever his strange whim may be.
4.3 Petruchio deprives Kate of both food and clean clothes after a long trip to his house during which she is dumped in the mud by her horse. The new husband plays the role of solicitous spouse who angrily spurns a series of savory dinners and stylish clothes which he deems not fit for his cherished bride. Kate must return home without food, without clean clothes, and without a night's sleep. Petruchio carries on a relentless campaign to break Kate's spirit, in the manner of twentieth-century masters of brainwashing in totalitarian prisons, or in Orwell's Ministry of Love!
4.5 The Vice Dean: Petruchio takes up a new strategy: to make Kate take his word as law no matter how absurd he seems. Otherwise, no food, no sleep, no visit home. Kate begins to play along with Petruchio's demands, to find old Vincentio a lovely young virgin and then a minute late a hoary elder. In Act Five, Kate will give her famous speech exhorting wives to yield completely to their husbands' whims. Is this change from shrew to Good Housekeeping wife of 1945 real? Convincing? The Vice Dean: "Validated by what we see in Act Five? Is Petruchio the utter and complete male chauvinist he seems?"
WE WILL MEET NEXT ON WEDNESDAY, APRIL 2, AND TAKE UP READING OF THE TAMING OF THE SHREW AT THE START OF ACT FIVE.
Respectfully submitted Robert G. Peck Secretary