The Taming of the Shrew

by: William Shakespeare

  Induction Scene 1

page Induction Scene 1 Page 5

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A PLAYER

I think ’twas Soto that your Honor means.

A PLAYER

I believe your Honor is thinking of a character called Soto.

LORD

85'Tis very true. Thou didst it excellent.
Well, you are come to me in happy time,
The rather for I have some sport in hand
Wherein your cunning can assist me much.
There is a lord will hear you play tonight;
90But I am doubtful of your modesties,
Lest over-eyeing of his odd behavior—
For yet his Honor never heard a play—
You break into some merry passion
And so offend him. For I tell you, sirs,
95If you should smile, he grows impatient.

LORD

Yes, that was it. You gave an excellent performance. Well, this is very fortunate, your arriving just at this moment. I happen to be planning a little entertainment and could really use your services. There is a particular lord who will watch you perform tonight. I’m a little worried, though—because his Honor has never seen a play before—that his odd behavior may strike you as funny. You might not be able to control your laughter and you might offend him. I warn you, he’s sensitive. The slightest smile provokes him.

A PLAYER

Fear not, my lord, we can contain ourselves
Were he the veriest antic in the world.

A PLAYER

Don’t worry. We’ll restrain ourselves—no matter how bizarrely he behaves.

LORD

Go, sirrah, take them to the buttery
And give them friendly welcome every one.
100Let them want nothing that my house affords.

LORD

Go, lad, and take them to the pantry. Make them feel welcome and see to it that they have everything they require.
Exit one with the PLAYERS
A servant exits with the PLAYERS.
Sirrah, go you to Barthol’mew, my page,
And see him dressed in all suits like a lady.
That done, conduct him to the drunkard’s chamber
And call him “madam,” do him obeisance.
105Tell him from me, as he will win my love,
He bear himself with honorable action,
Such as he hath observed in noble ladies
Unto their lords, by them accomplishèd.
You, fellow, go fetch my page, Bartholomew, and dress him up like a noble lady. When you’ve finished, bring him to the drunkard’s room, address him as “madam,” bow to him and treat him with all-round respect and deference, as though he were the lady of the house. Give him this message: if he wants to please me, he will conduct himself like a member of the aristocracy, mimicking the kind of behavior he’s seen noble ladies use toward their husbands.