Merchant of Venice

First look: Shakespeare in Italy’s A Merchant of Venice

Images have been released of Bill Alexander’s Shakespeare in Italy production of A Merchant of Venice, which is now open at The Playground Theatre in London.

Bill Alexander, the critically acclaimed and award-winning Shakespearian director, well known for his tenures at the RSC and Birmingham Rep, and his Best Director Olivier Award for The Merry Wives of Windsor, has created and directs this all-new modern-day adaptation, entitled A Merchant of Venice.  

Mary Chater, Alexander KnoxJohn McAndrewLena Robin, Peter Tate and Alex Wilson star in Shakespeare in Italy’s new six-character version of one of William Shakespeare’s most notable and controversial tales, The Merchant of Venice

Bill’s adaptation focuses on the tortured nature of love at the inner core of Shakespeare’s play, and features set and costume designs by Sara Perks, lighting by Ryan Day and sound by Sarah Sayeed

The production runs at The Playground Theatre from 10 November – 4 December 2021, with press night on Monday 15 November.  

Bill Alexander, adaptor and director of A Merchant of Venice said, “One can get obsessed with a particular work of art and I confess that obsession is the only way to describe my relationship to The Merchant of Venice. ” said Bill Alexander.

He continued “I have directed it twice professionally, twice at drama schools, and taught and lectured on it often. When working on select scenes, it began to occur to me that there was an inner play about a small network of relationships that was the core of the bigger play that wrestles with huge themes of Justice and Mercy, Marriage and Money, Race and Class, and it is this inner core, essentially about the tortured nature of Love, that my production for Shakespeare in Italy at The Playground Theatre will focus on. 

My version of the play, entitled A Merchant of Venice, focuses on just six key characters whose entangled loves, desires and fortunes hinge on a better understanding of themselves and their relation to each other in the blackly comic world of a modern Venice, the sublime and terrible Serenissima.” 

Shakespeare in Italy is keen to take the works of Shakespeare to new audiences in exciting and interesting ways. Parallel to this production is its Outreach Programme for Schools sponsored by BMH Associates Limited. Working with students at The St Marylebone CofE School, who are studying The Merchant of Venice, Shakespeare in Italy hopes to enrich their understanding of the play via a series of energetic and interactive workshops with members of the cast and visits to see the performance. 

A Merchant of Venice runs until 4 December 2021 at The Playground Theatre, London. Tickets are on sale.

👤 📅12 November 2021

📷 Main photo: L-R Mary Chater, John McAndrew, Alex Wilson, Alexander Knox & Peter Tate - A Merchant Of Venice - The Playground Theatre - © Guy Bell

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