If you prick us, do we not bleed?
The Merchant of Venice is one of Shakespeare’s most well-known plays. A mix of comedy, romance and drama, the play contains many themes that resonate to this day, such as antisemitism and the treatment of people of different races. This August, The Merchant of Venice returns to the Great Barn in Titchfield for the first time since 2016.
The story is as follows: Antonio needs money to lend to Bassanio and sends Bassanio to borrow the money from Shylock (dodgy), on behalf of Antonio (trusting). Antonio must default on the loan from the abused Jewish moneylender. Shylock asks for his pound of flesh (weird), Bassanio agrees to it (weirder) and Portia saves the day by cross-dressing and practicing law (perfectly normal).
Emma Bevan is the director and last year directed The Taming of the Shrew. Emma said, “Shakespeare remains in my view the greatest storyteller of all time – and The Merchant of Venice is a wonderful story with plenty of strong female characters such as Portia and Jessica, Shylock’s daughter. The play is very much about antisemitism, too. In the 16th century Jews in Venice had to live in ghettos, there was mistrust and dislike directed towards the Jewish community and immigrants to Venice were treated badly.
“The Merchant of Venice is an excellent example of Shakespeare’s skill as a social commentator, writing plays which were political in their nature. The passage which commences with If you prick us, do we not bleed? is especially powerful – and poignant. He is clearly saying that people are people - we all are made the same, we physically react the same and we all have emotions, we cry, we laugh, we bleed. It is clearly an attempt to implore us to show some humanity towards all people.”
The Merchant of Venice will be performed as an open-air theatre at the Great Barn, Titchfield in Mill Lane. It opens on Monday 3 August until Saturday 8 August. There is a bar, so bring a blanket or a deckchair to enjoy a wonderful evening of Shakespearian acting on the spacious green outside of the Great Barn.
For more information including booking tickets and details of the live streamed performances, please go to http://titchfieldfestivaltheatre.com/or contact our Box Office on 0333 666 3366.