The Taming opens Oct. 2 at ArtsWest in the West Seattle Junction. The satire focuses on 'our cranky government, and our Founding Fathers, and our Americanness, and ourselves,' according to the Playwright Lauren Gunderson.

The Taming, all new but inspired by Shakespeare satirizes our cranky government

by Aya Hashiguchi Clark

ArtsWest Playhouse and Gallery will open their 2013-2014 Season with something that’s new and delightfully different. On October 2nd, ArtsWest will present the world premiere of Lauren Gunderson’s play, THE TAMING.

Yes, this play is “hot off the presses,” but there are other elements of this production that make it one-of-a-kind. THE TAMING is a political farce, poking fun at (in the words of the playwright) “our cranky government, and our Founding Fathers, and our Americanness, and ourselves.” But this is a unique satire. The story, with all its partisan politics and American history, is played by three women.

One woman is a liberal blogger with a following of over 2 million readers. The other is a senatorial aide to one of the most powerful conservative members of Congress. And the third? She’s the reigning Miss Georgia who is preparing to compete in the Miss America pageant.

Imagine these strange bedfellows hilariously doing battle with one another, with the Founding Fathers and even with the American Constitution... all while locked together in a hotel room with no way of escape and (gasp!) no cell phones with which to communicate to the outside world. Strange indeed. But what does it all mean?

“The playwright is a passionate American who is putting out a call for change,” explains Tammis Doyle, director of THE TAMING. “She does that by taking three women, two of whom are from the opposite ends of the political spectrum, and then investigates both how compromise may or may not be made now, and how it was made by our Founding Fathers.”

But make no mistake. This is not a dry history lesson. Rather, expect an evening of belly laughs and comic surprises. ArtsWest calls THE TAMING “a good ole heaping of Southern fried politics.”

“The comedy is fresh and fun and silly, and a bit raunchy at times,” says actress Justine Stillwell, who portrays the beauty queen Miss Georgia. “There’s political jargon as well as incredibly funny dialogue, which will make people burst out laughing in their seats.”

Initially inspired by Shakespeare’s The Taming of the Shrew, Gunderson’s play is actually a co-world premiere, presented simultaneously with Crowded Fire Theater in San Francisco. “Every new play is an investigation by the playwright to make a play better, “ says Doyle. “The difference here is that she is not here...we’re not all in the same room.”

Developing a new play with an absentee playwright presents its own unique challenges. As with every new work, script changes are constant and necessary. “Lauren (Gunderson) sends us changes that are better than what she had written before,” explains Doyle. “She is in rehearsal with the cast in San Francisco, but I email with her almost every day.”

The three actors say they are definitely up to the challenge. “It’s a challenge and a joy all in one,” declares Dayo Anderson, who portrays the conservative aide. “The language is fast and quick. The rhythm of the dialogue is difficult, but once you get it, you get it...and it works!”

Anna Townes, who is cast as the liberal blogger, agrees heartily. “There’s constantly been (script) changes, but that’s been exciting, and the changes have been incredibly positive and definitely (makes) a better story.”

Three amazing women. Three world-changing personalities. Three laugh-out-loud funny actresses. Looks like our Founding Fathers will just have to make way for The Founding Mothers.

THE TAMING runs October 2nd - 19th, 2013. Tickets can be purchased at or by phone 206.938.0339. The public box office re-opens September 26th - Thursdays & Fridays 1-7:30pm, Saturdays 1:30- 7:30pm. Note: ages 14+ - scantily clad females, strong language and adult situations.

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