Vancouver, B.C. – Kwantlen Polytechnic University instructor Fred Ribkoff is taking a controversial Shakespeare comedy and giving it a punchy upgrade for the 21st century.
1001 Steps Theatre Society, founded by Ribkoff and KPU alumnus John Rowell, present Training of the Shrew, at the Vancouver Fringe Festival in September. The play is a new adaptation of Taming of the Shrew and will be the society’s first production at the festival.
“The Fringe is a place for theatre troupes to experiment, and our production is very much an experiment in adapting Shakespeare to the outdoor stage with all kinds of contemporary elements,” says Ribkoff, an English and Interdisciplinary Expressive Arts (IDEA) instructor at KPU and producer, director and actor in the play.
He says the inspiration to bring this play into the boxing ring comes from a line in Shakespeare’s original play, Knock, sir! Whom should I knock? Is there a man has rebused your worship?
“I saw it and first envisioned it as a boxing version,” says Ribkoff. “In our version of the play, there is no romantic relationship between Petruchio and Kate. It is purely professional and driven by the need to turn a wild brawler into a proficient, emotionally well balanced, self-aware, self-assured professional fighter.”
In the original play, Petruchio marries Katherina and attempts to tame her while Hortensio, Gremio and Lucentio try to woo Bianca. In Training of the Shrew, the potential suitors are boxing trainers whereas Katherina and Bianca are the young boxers looking for trainers.
“The more amorous and sexually charged relations are concentrated in the relationships between Lucentio and Bianca, and between Hortensio, also known as the Jazz Man in our play, and a character we created, Amazona Donna. Indeed, there is a kind of reversal as both women, Bianca and Amazona Donna, dominate their men.”
Overall Ribkoff says the audience can expect a lot of comedy and farce. Many of the actors involved in the play are current KPU students, faculty, and graduates.
“There will be a boxing ring and boxing gloves with a little love, a little boxing and a lot of fun,” adds Ribkoff.
Training of the Shrew takes the stage September 7, 8 and 9 and September 14, 15 and 16 at the Vancouver Fringe Festival. For more information about the show and festival, visit .