Kyle Walker’s Unlikely Muses as Petruchio

When I first began to develop the character of Petruchio in The Taming of the Shrew, a strange but clarifying discovery was made. The way in which I wanted to play the character reminded me of two very strange sources: Andy Kaufman and Edward Blake, the Comedian (a comic book character from the graphic novel Watchmen. )

Andy Kaufman’s humor was based on human emotion. It wasn’t always funny. He reveled in the control of human emotions. He could make (and loved to make) the audience feel whatever he liked. It didn’t matter if it was joy, laughter, hatred, embarrassment, remorse, fear, or anything. He enjoyed the reversal. He enjoyed the human reaction. And that is what Petruchio is.

There are many times in the play in which Petruchio is on stage but says nothing for pages. He just stands there and watches as the mistaken identity/wooing/suitor subplot plays out. He enjoys it. He enjoys watching the ridiculous farce of life. It’s just a game to him: a game of human reaction that he can control, enjoy, and get lost in.

In Watchman, the Comedian is a charismatic womanizing, self-centered, arrogant, vigilante. One could see right there where I could find a muse for Petruchio. But more importantly, the Comedian saw the world for what it is; a joke. Instead of being a part of that joke, he chooses to be a parody of it. When Petruchio sees how his world works (e.g.: father’s deciding who should marry who, suitors lying and cheating to get a wife, love being pushed aside, etc…), he chooses to become a satire of what he sees.

It is very important to me and the character that Petruchio truly does love Kate. At first it is simply a game. He tricks the girl, he gets he money. That game changes as soon as he meets Kate. So, Petruchio puts on a character that is boisterous, loud, arrogant, and flamboyant, to fit into the world of Padua. But also to make a joke of it. To laugh at it behind its back. To control it. When Kate discovers that joke and can laugh at it with him, that is when he falls in love.