Essay on Production of Merchant of Venice

Submitted By rchan1111
Words: 2707
Pages: 11

Two Interpretations of an Elizabethan Production of The Merchant of Venice
An Apprentice:
Today is a good day! My master occasionally gives me an allowance for new clothes and such, but I have managed to save one penny – enough to go see a performance at the theatre this afternoon (Gurr, 2004; McEvoy, 2006). I am so excited that I arrived over an hour before it is supposed to start. I do not know much about the play being performed today. The white flag towering above The Globe tells me that it is a comedy, and I have heard other people saying that the play is called The Merchant of Venice. It will be interesting because I have never been to Venice and know nothing about it. I have never even been outside of England.
The theatre is starting to fill up, especially here in the yard below the stage. Looking up, I see that the galleries are becoming quite full as well. It would be nice to be able to sit while watching the play, instead of standing the whole time, but that would have cost me one full penny extra (Gurr, 2004; McEvoy, 2006)! Just for a seat and a roof, it is not worth that additional penny. It does not even look like it is going to rain this afternoon, luckily for me. I do not even think that I would want to sit up in the galleries, even if I had the extra penny to spare. Everyone up there is wearing outrageous hats and the women are waving large fans so that no one can see behind them. Here in the yard everyone can see the stage because it is almost as tall as I am, and I am fairly tall. The yard is starting to fill up now, so it must be getting close to the start of the play. The whole theatre has almost filled up. There are even some very nicely dressed men sitting on the stage – what a spot to view the play from! There must be hundreds of people here, or a number even larger than hundreds, thousands.
The trumpets sound, signaling that the play is about to start (McEvoy, 2006). The crowd gets quieter and stills slightly, but still not by much. People are still having conversations, shifting to get comfortable or even walking around, and some audience members, like those sitting atop the stage, continue playing card games. Before I know it, the players are on the stage, and the show is beginning. Everything happens so quickly; the players start speaking immediately, and I am so excited that I am about to see a play that I am not paying attention to the first few lines. I notice that the way Antonio and Bassanio interact with each other seems more than just a friendly relationship, it is almost as if Antonio is in love with Bassanio. Antonio seems awfully devoted to Bassanio to just be a friend to him.
As quickly as the actors entered, they leave and new ones replaced them. Now there are women on the stage. Well, boys playing as women. It is difficult for me to see the players as women, not as the adolescent boys they are. The character Portia complains about being sad despite her wealth, as Antonio did before. If I had as much wealth as these Venetians, I would never complain a day in my life. I doubt that they understand true sadness because of poverty.
Another scene change, and now Bassanio and the Jew, Shylock, are discussing a loan. Shylock seems a nasty character, greedy and ruthless, like the rest of his kind. Antonio, on the other hand, is a hero. Antonio is willing to do anything for his friend, even put a pound of his flesh on the line, just so that Bassanio may woo a girl. The crowd agrees and cries out at Shylock for offering such a horrific deal, and some people even throw food at him. I see that some vendors are walking amongst the audience, offering fruits and nuts (Gurr, 2004). It would be nice to have something to eat or drink, but I do not have a penny to spare.
The play carries on and I notice that I have been pushed further and further back, by vendors walking through or other spectators moving and walking about. With all the conversations being carried on I almost cannot hear the…