Students take on Shakespeare

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Lydia Kindred calls "The Taming of the Shrew" a Shakespeare version of the movie "10 Things I Hate About You" starring Julia Stiles.

In fact, the movie is a character-for-character remake of the classic Shakespearian tale of two sisters -- one the beautiful and popular Bianca and the other the strong-willed and cutting Katharina.

¤ "The Taming of the Shrew"

¤ 7 p.m. today and Saturday

¤ Steamboat Springs High School auditorium

¤ $10 for adults; $8 for students ages 12 to 18; $5 for children younger than 12 and for students with activity passes

¤ 879-1562

The Shakespearian comedy follows the outcome of an edit put out by the girls' mother, Baptista (played by freshman Miriam Pensack). She announces that no one can marry her daughter Bianca (played by junior Laura Stetman) until Katharina (played by senior Lydia Kindred) has a husband.

Bianca's many suitors go on a mission to find a man for Katharina. They find Petruchio (played by sophomore Taylor Anderson), a gun-slinging cowboy. (The Steamboat Springs High School version of "The Taming of the Shrew" is remade with a Western theme.)

"He promises to marry Katharina, and he tries to tame her," Kindred said.

Taking on a Shakespeare play is challenge enough because of its arcane language, but the actors in this play have the added pressure of knowing the community will be watching with a critical eye.

In August, a group of parents and students came before the Steamboat Springs School Board upset about the district's choice to hire a drama teacher with no prior theater instruction experience.

But when rehearsals began, Kindred saw that her new instructor, Chula Walker-Griffith, brought the eye and the mind of the artist to the stage. Kindred acted in several high school plays in past years. Most recently, she played the lead role in "Little Shop of Horrors."

"At the beginning of the year, everyone was pretty worried," Kindred said. "But I watched (Walker-Griffith) work through it.

Days before the opening, Walker-Griffith was nervous about public reaction.

"I was a little wary about doing Shake--speare as my first play," she said. "But we did a vote, and that's what the kids wanted.

"In terms of the artist perspective, I knew it took organization, that I would need my tools lined up, and that amount of pragmatism helped me through. I realized that I could do it, and I've enjoyed it."

One noticeable difference, Kindred said, between former drama instructor Stuart Handloff's directing and Walker-Griffith's is her increased use of underclassmen.

One of the main characters, Baptista, is played by a freshman -- Miriam Pensack -- who was given the role two weeks ago after the original actor had to drop out for personal reasons.

Giving a lead role to a freshman might seem like a risk for some directors, but Pensack learned her lines quickly and approached her character development thoughtfully.

"It's a big part," Kindred said. "She was thrown into it at the last minute, but she is doing great."

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