Posts with the category ‘Commentary – Shakespeare’s plays’


Riedel’s Merchant is Scintillating, Despite Our Aversion to Shylock’s Undoing

The Merchant of Venice is part of Shakespeare’s “controversial canon” of plays for today’s theatre-goer. Directors persistently wrestle with audience concerns about the playwright’s bias against the drama’s notorious money lender who is robbed of his religion during the final act. Because Shakespeare most likely styled his play after Christopher Marlowe’s The Jew of Malta (1589), he conceived of Shylock as an allegorical figure from medieval drama—a stereotypical bad guy that Elizabethan audiences had grown to expect in the 1590s, when Merchant was first performed. A lesser playwright would have imagined Shylock as a one-dimensional villain. Shakespeare, though, created a well-rounded anti-hero who roundly exposes Christian hypocrisy, and challenges the ignorant prejudices about Jews that were displayed by his countrymen…. Read More…


In Henry V, Texas Shakespeare Festival Actors Esteem the Verse, Above All

As a lifelong theatre buff who has seen Shakespeare’s plays performed in London’s West End, in New York on Broadway, at the Stratford Festival of Canada in Stratford, Ontario, and at Houston’s Alley Theatre, I am consistently impressed by the Texas Shakespeare Festival’s commitment to staging productions of such impeccable quality, they routinely outshine shows mounted by regional theaters and Shakespeare festivals in large Texas cities that attract much higher audiences than TSF. (The Texas Shakespeare Festival, affiliated with Kilgore College, is located in a small town about 30 miles east of Tyler, Texas.) According to TSF’s longtime artistic director, Raymond Caldwell, the festival is committed to ensuring that audiences understand every word that its actors utter onstage. (This is a commitment… Read More…


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