Interview with CAST 2015: The Taming of the Shrew

We sat down with Toby Marlow (the tamer) and Kate Reid (the shrew) to find out about Shakespeare, Americans and life on the road.

2015 ADC america cast Shakespeare The Taming of the Shrew Theatre tour USA


What did you expect from tour?

Kate: We expected tour to be very intense, and that we would have barely any time to rest. But because we’ve gone for four weeks and because the tour has been so well organised we’ve had time to get to know host families, to visit cool places and to chill out a bit.

Toby: America has been very different to what I expected. I thought the south would very much feel one way, and the north would feel different. But each state has a very different culture and atmosphere. Each state is like a country and has it’s own way of speaking and living.

The tour began with a three week rehearsal period in Cambridge. What was it like getting to know everyone?

Kate: We came on tour with a combination of people- some people we’d met before, some people were old friends, some people we’d never met before.

Toby: In retrospect the rehearsal period was more stressful than tour, because the rehearsals were all day every day with only a couple of weekends off. I think our rehearsal period was the most like doing a professional show in terms of the time put in. The rehearsal process was great socially – we spent time in each other’s rooms in Clare every evening.

Kate: An ordinary day would start at nine with a briefing, then morning and afternoon rehearsals. Very kindly the ADC Theatre gave us the run of the building so we could have several rehearsals going at once with a split directorial team. We would all have dinner in the bar at six- cooking for nineteen people every day was quite a challenge. Then more rehearsals after dinner. It was intense but it was great practice for being on the road because it was impossible not to get close to people after spending that much time with them.

Rehearsals being taken extremely seriously

The visit was to Sebastian, Florida with performances at St Ed’s High School and Sebastian River High School.

Kate: We were all nervous and excited when we arrived in Florida. We had only been in the US for 12 hours and had to meet our host families. Everyone was lovely and it was really nice to hear about all the CAST tours from over the years. We got to stay in Florida for four days so got to know our hosts pretty well. We went to a high school football game.

Toby: We were worried that the students at the school would not be up for joining in the workshops and had been warned that they might not know or understand much Shakespeare. But after the first show it became pretty clear that they knew their stuff. One girl came up after and wanted to discuss the motivation of the characters in a particular scene- it became obvious that they knew the play well and were really engaging with it. They asked all about England and our universities, and we wanted to see if the American high school Mean Girls clichés were true (turns out they pretty much were).

The next stop was Columbia College, South Carolina.

Kate: We were going to a Catholic girls university so we were a bit worried about how their teachers might react to our rather raucous show. But once again in the workshops it became clear they really knew the play. They responded incredibly to the performance, especially mine and Toby’s kiss, which was met with wolf whistles whilst me and Toby had to keep looking at each other waiting for them to stop.

Toby: Not to give spoilers: there’s one scene where I arrive on stage in a slightly outrageous outfit. Usually this is met with laughs and a few claps but here it was…loud.

Kate: It was thunderous. Lots of screaming.

Toby: And there was a selfie parade after the show…But they also laughed at the puns and the jokes in the language which was really nice and pretty much the first time we had fully had that. It was the perfect crowd- at least for me.

What was Nashville like and how was the team getting on by this point on tour?

Toby: By Nashville it felt like we’d been on the road for ages but we hadn’t actually. At this point I felt I was getting on better with everyone. We were playing about a bit more with the play on stage and getting to know who you could trust on stage, who you could try a new joke with, who is a culprit for corpsing, who pushes the language a lot.

Kate: Nashville was quite a test. It was quite an odd venue- not much of a backstage, instead we had to go around by the bins. I will never forget doing a fight call warm up in complete silence in the car park because the audience were already getting in their seats. It was bizarre but also a great test of our relationships. And we had a day off in Nashville- where we dashed into a honky tonk to avoid a rain shower and ended up dancing to country music all afternoon.

Toby: It was one of our first chances to really spend a lot of time bonding as friends, rather than just people tour together.

Friends 5ever

What has been the weirdest performance so far?

Toby: Ah, definitely Madisonville. The show was going to outside but it had to be moved inside due to rain. The venue had amazing facilities- our tech guy Johannes and Tom loved it. But Kennedy (the director) came up to us just before the show and told us there were only 30 people in this huge venue. So we decided to really put all our energy in and try out a few things. Some stuff didn’t work and was just weird, but other things really worked and are now in the show for good.

The tour is at The Theatre at Little Washington at the time of interview. What’s it like?

Kate: So far we’ve been playing to huge venues which is very different to the theatres in Cambridge. Washington is much more what we are used to. The audience was mainly retired people from the town which we were worried about because the show is mainly designed for the high school students. But they laughed at me punching Toby very early on and from that point on we knew they’d be a lovely audience.

Toby: Virginia has beautiful rolling hills. Our host is a lady who single handedly runs a huge cattle farm. The theatre has a theatre dog, who watches all the shows and helps steward in the interval. Today we went to Washington DC which was amazing despite pouring with rain.

Are there any things that have become recurring features or signatures of the tour?

Toby: Something I will always remember about this tour is the cars we have been travelling in. We have three large cars/vans that we have become very well acquainted with and have given endearing pet names to them all. There’s a large red one, Lobster, a white one, Fury Truck and a gold one, Passion Wagon. On the first day in Florida, Lobster got very lost and ended up on a road surrounded by crabs migrating from one side of the road to the other. The Fury Truck accidentally hit a bird on that first drive. So that’s how they got their names. We’ve also been listening to a lot of country music in the car, especially >sings< ‘I’m gonna buy me a boat’.

Kate: Another favourite song has been ‘Follow your arrow’ (by Kacey Musgraves) which we saw performed live at Chapin County Labor Day Parade.

What has been your worst moment on tour?

Kate: We were in the ocean in Florida which was amazing. But then I felt searing pain and had been stung by a jellyfish. We got out pretty quickly but then were not sure whether it would be fine or, if I had been stung by a bad one, things would turn bad pretty quickly. We waited to see if the latter would happen. Thankfully it was fine although I did have to walk into a pharmacy in my bikini.

Toby: I’ve had a very dynamic relationship with food on this tour. It has been consistently brilliant and the portions very satisfying. We’ve been to quite a few all-you-can-eat buffets. But the worst moment was when Alex (Tour Manager) and I took part in a cupcake eating contest and came third and fourth. Thirteen cupcakes in five minutes did not make me feel very well. But I did feel very proud for coming fourth ahead of eleven Americans.

What has been one of your best moment?

Kate: When me and Aoife (Tranio) found ourselves on a bar crawl in Florida with our host. We went to a bar on a shipwrecked boat and then to a biker bar, where we felt very out of place until all the bikers turned round to our little 72-year-old blonde host and greeted her very warmly.

Toby: The best bits have been spending time with host families. And the days off like Washington and Nashville where we get to see some America but also spend time all together.

The Taming of the Shrew will be playing at the ADC Theatre, Cambridge 6th-10th October 2015 at 7:45pm and at 2:30pm on the 10th. To book tickets visit or ring 01223 300045.