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The Merchant of Venice: OMTC/RSC Youth Shakespeare Festival

This year, as last year, I’m a practitioner with Open Minds Theatre Company on their Youth Shakespeare Festival. Conducted in association with RSC, it is the largest of its kind in the UK.

I will be working with four classes across two schools, aged 8-16, to create a vibrant, contemporary version of The Merchant of Venice. My role is of a holistic creative consultant: to supervise the production, to nurture the ideas and aims of the teachers, inspire the children involved through creative workshops and teach key skills for performance and textual analysis.

Merchant of Venice will be set in the here and now, amidst the depths of the financial crisis:

Antonio, an investment banker, has all his capital tied up. His ships are at sea. Young Brassanio, his adoptive son, cannot wait for Antonio to reclaim his investments, for he hopes to win the craziest reality TV show of all time: a winner-takes-all competition for the hand of the deceased media mogul Belmont’s daughter and sole heiress, Portia.

Together they must journey into the underworld and mix with the oppressed of society in order to secure the money to pay for Brassanio’s golden ticket. Antonio, reviled by the kingpin Shylock, can have his money, but should he fail to pay it back, there will be a deadly price- one pound of flesh.

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