KPU students Stephanie Davies and Joseph Beland in “Training of the Shrew,” staged at Vancouver Fringe Festival this week. (submitted photo)

With a boxing ring, play created in Surrey hits Vancouver Fringe Festival

‘Training of the Shrew’ staged by new 1001 Steps Theatre Society, with KPU connections

A new Surrey-based theatre company will bring in a boxing ring for its debut production at Vancouver Fringe Festival.

“Training of the Shrew,” a quirky adaptation of a William Shakespeare comedy, is brought to an outdoor stage on Granville Island by 1001 Steps Theatre Society (1001steps.org), founded this year by Kwantlen Polytechnic University instructor Fred Ribkoff and KPU alumnus John Rowell.

The show opens tonight (Sept. 7) at the festival’s Picnic Pavillion, located behind Waterfront Theatre, and continues with six showings there until Sunday, Sept. 16.

“This is our first official show, as a society,” Ribkoff, who lives in the Ocean Park area, said Friday.

The show came together over the past several months, with a variety of different actors involved.

“We did a version of the show in Surrey at Enver Creek high school, in mid-May, with some different actors, just to try it out,” Ribkoff explained.

“It’s a blast, outrageous and kind of farcical at points,” he added. “It’s a lot of laughs, which has been the goal.”

In “Training of the Shrew,” champion boxer “Bianca the Golden Girl Minola” cannot be signed to a trainer until one is found for her elder sister, “Katherina the Curst Minola.”

On the Fringe fest website, the show is billed as “a story of love, family and… boxing. Join the Ring Guy, the Ring Announcer and Amazona Donna in this zany retelling of Shakespeare’s controversial comedy, ‘The Taming of the Shrew.’”

The inspiration to bring the 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?”

Says Ribkoff: “I saw it and first envisioned it as a boxing version. 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,” Ribkoff notes. “Indeed, there is a kind of reversal as both women, Bianca and Amazona Donna, dominate their men.”

Ribkoff, an English and Interdisciplinary Expressive Arts (IDEA) instructor at KPU, is the play producer and director, and also acts in the production.

Many of the actors involved are current KPU students, faculty and grads.

“There will be a boxing ring and boxing gloves with a little love, a little boxing and a lot of fun,” Ribkoff added.

For more show details, including tickets, visit vancouverfringe.com.

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