Taming of the Shrew Induction, Scene 1: Outside rural alehouse.
Christopher Sly, a drunken homeless man, is thrown out of an alehouse by its hostess. He has not paid for his liquor, and despite his drunken state, continues to taunt the hostess until she leaves the street to fetch the constable. He quickly passes out and falls asleep. A Lord and his huntsmen come upon the sleeping Sly outside after their day of hunting, and quickly devise a plan. At first, they cannot tell if he is drunk or dead. However, as soon as they realize that he is a common drunkard, they decide to play a trick on him. The Lord initially tells his huntsman to dress him in rich robes and attend to him, making him forget he is a beggar and instead is a Lord. He tells his players to come and perform for this new 'Lord,' as he introduced him, and continue with their daily work. They players exit, leaving the Lord alone with one attendant. He decides to change his trick even more, to make a fool not only of Sly, but also of his players and huntsmen. He tells one servant, a Page, to dress up as a woman and convince Sly that he is his long lost wife that will so anything so that he may hold onto his affections. Everything is set:
"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.
But I am doubtful of your modesties
Lest over-eying of his bad behavior-
For yet his honor never heard a play-
You break into some merry passion
And so offend him, for I tell you, sirs,
If you should smile, he grows impatient." Induction, Scene 1, lines 90-99