“THE MERCHANT OF VENICE” JOINS 2011 BARD SEASON
In Short…Bard on the Beach Shakespeare Festival continues its 22nd season with the classic The Merchant of Venice directed by Rachel Ditor. It runs in the Mainstage Theatre tent Tuesdays to Sundays June 15 to September 23 under the tents in Vanier Park. Tickets: 604-739-0559 or www.bardonthebeach.org.
In Full … Bard on the Beach Shakespeare Festival continues its 22nd season with the classic The Merchant of Venice in the new 742-seat custom-built Mainstage Theatre tent in Vanier Park. It plays Tuesdays through Sundays from June 15 through September 23, 2011 in repertory with the current production of As You Like It.
This timeless, mesmerizing tale pits youth against age, idealism against compromise, as it travels the vast landscape between extremes. Portia and Bassanio find true love for the first time while the moneylender Shylock and the merchant Antonio are locked in deadly battle, driven by prejudice and the desire for justice. Loyalties and values are famously put to the test when a ‘pound of flesh’ becomes the price of a failed contract, and young lovers conspire to win lasting happiness.
Bassanio (Charlie Gallant) has the opportunity to woo a wealthy heiress, Portia (Lindsey Angell). His older friend, a merchant named Antonio (Duncan Fraser), agrees to give him money to support his suit, however, Antonio’s funds are all invested in ventures at sea and not currently available. To help Bassanio, Antonio borrows money from Shylock (Richard Newman), signing a bond to repay the money within three months or he will owe Shylock a pound of his “fair flesh”. At her home in Belmont, Portia entertains a variety of suitors and she is constrained to marry the suitor who succeeds in a task set by her deceased father. Two of Portia’s suitors, the Prince of Morocco (Luc Roderique) and the Prince of Aragon (John Murphy), make wrong choices before Bassanio arrives and chooses the correct casket. Portia, who expresses a hope that Bassanio would choose correctly, gives her love and wealth to her newly betrothed husband. Bassanio’s friend, Gratiano (Ryan Beil), and Portia’s attendant, Nerissa (Amber Lewis) have also fallen in love and decided to marry. Another friend of Bassanio, Lorenzo (Sebastian Kroon), arrives with his new wife, Jessica (Luisa Jojic), who happens to be Shylock’s daughter, and another friend, Salanio (David Marr), who brings news from Antonio: his ships have all been lost, and since he cannot repay Shylock, he will have to forfeit a pound of his flesh and, in doing so, die. They depart immediately for Venice, with Portia’s blessing and her offer to pay the bond. Portia and Nerissa leave, dressed as a young lawyer and his clerk, to attend the trial and defend Antonio as he faces Shylock’s demand. In the courtroom, Shylock is inflexible. He argues that according to the law, Antonio must forfeit his pound of flesh, and he insists on the penalty. Portia, disguised as a lawyer, turns the table on Shylock; Antonio is saved and Shylock’s life is now in question. The Duke of Venice (John Murphy) spares Shylock’s life but requires him to convert to Christianity. Adding to this intriguing look at the nature of bonds are Lois Anderson as Stephana, Kayvon Khoshkam as Launcelot Gobbo, Shawn Macdonald as Salarino and Todd Thomson as Tubal.
Director Rachel Ditor has set this production in the 1870s, around the time of the unification of Italy with Kevin McAllister’s thrust stage taking us between Venice’s courtroom and the island of Belmont. Mara Gottler’s costumes bring us into both these locations, with pastel and cream grand dresses defining the role of women in Belmont and the monied look of success for the mercantile world of Venice. Patrick Pennefather’s dramatic sound design elegantly bridges these worlds and Gerald King’s lighting emphasizes the dark and light natures of the two worlds.
Performance details for The Merchant of Venice are as follows:
- OPENS: June 18; Previews: June 15, 16, 17
- Runs Tuesdays through Sundays from June 15 to September 23 in Vanier Park.
- Plays in repertory with As You Like It in the Mainstage tent.
- Bard Explored: Lecture & Discussion Series – June 25, July 16 & 23, August 6, 13 & 27, September 3 & 17
Play ticket prices include reserved seating, HST and are $40 (evenings) and $21 to $33 (previews & matinees) with a new $30 Youth Rate (25 years and under) for evening performances only. Order on-site, by phone at 604-739-0559 or on-line at www.bardonthebeach.org. Follow Bard on the Beach on Facebook and Twitter.
[NOTE: There is no Media Call for this production; video is available upon request.]