The Merchant of Venice
Box Clever’s poignant re-imagining of Shakespeare’s most controversial play
Ideally suited for Years 14-16 year olds
Performance length: 55 minutes (without an interval)
Audience number: approximately 150
Presentation: ideally on three sides or face on
Nearly 400 years separate Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice and Michael Wicherek’s simply staged adaptation of the play with a single story-teller and musician but, despite the apparently contrasting worlds in which they were composed and performed, both speak of some of the darkest areas of human nature and activity. Love may drive the actions of Shakespeare’s Merchant, Antonio, and the clever and beautiful Portia, but it is the corrosive nature of hatred and bigotry that both playwrights explore.
Interwoven through Shakespeare’s text in our version is the tale of the Storyteller’s grandfather, another Venetian merchant, this time Jewish, who faced persecution and ultimate annihilation in the Holocaust. Neither play makes comfortable viewing but it is only by facing the darkness that we can banish it with light, only by acknowledging the past and learning from it that we can move into the future.
This adaptation is inspired by the life of Primo Levi who survived Auschwitz to write words of hope without any hatred in his heart. May his memory move us to say `never again’ to every generation.
“I really liked the enthusiasm of the actors, the fact that the audience was involved and the way the play debates our thoughts and opinions about our society because it helps us to understand and develop the world around us without any injustice.”
Year 10, Our Lady’s Convent High School, Hackney
Box Clever first presented the play to great acclaim, at the Jerusalem Thespis Theatre Festival prior to a tour of theatre venues in Ireland. Iqbal Khan currently with the Royal Shakespeare Company, directs this new production intent on keeping with the company’s direct and embracing style, to ensure that the audience hear Shakespeare’s voice and words speak to us today in a world in which the links of shared humanity which should bind us and provide our essential social cohesion are too frequently challenged and fractured.
“The play has a moral of a story about our world today and how people still stereotype each other because of culture, religion etc. It influences us to change the world around us and not to be ignorant.”
Year 10 student, London
“Never have I seen Shakespeare presented in such a user-friendly way. The juxtaposition of a single-handed relating of the plot of The Merchant of Venice, with a silent partner created a lively, memorable presentation”
Sixth former, Northern Ireland
For Autumn 2018: performed by Lloyd Thomas; music by Enrico Aurigemma; costume design by Sorcha Corcoran; photography by Lidia Crisafulli; lighting design by Pip Thurlow; adapted by Michael Wicherek ; directed by Iqbal Khan.
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