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The Warsaw Voice » Stage & Screen » November 3, 2014
Theater
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Shakespeare at the Dramatyczny
November 3, 2014   
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A new production of The Merchant of Venice opened at Warsaw’s Dramatyczny Theater Oct. 3, the first in a string of events marking 450 years since the birth of William Shakespeare.

The play is directed by Aldona Figura and is based on a new translation of the Shakespeare classic by Piotr Kamiński.

In the play, Antonio, a merchant in 16th-century Venice, wants to offer financial help to his friend Bassanio, who is set on marrying a wealthy heiress called Portia. Antonio turns to Shylock, a Jewish moneylender, who is the only person with the kind of money he needs. Shylock comes up with a bizarre deal whereby Antonio has three months to repay the debt or else he will have to give Shylock a pound of his own flesh.

The Merchant of Venice is seldom staged these days due to what many see as its anti-Semitic message and its depiction of a Jew as a greedy moneylender. Some academics, however, interpret it differently. German expert Hans Mayer believes that the play is a story about anti-Semitism, and that it also exposes the oppression that other groups like women and homosexuals are exposed to. According to Mayer, the play is as relevant today as it was centuries ago, because discrimination against Jews, women and gay people did not end with the advent of liberal democracy, but has assumed more sophisticated forms instead.

The sets and costumes for the production were designed by Aneta Suskiewicz and the music was written by Marcin Mirowski. The cast includes Zdzisław Wardejn, Piotr Siwkiewicz and Andrzej Blumenfeld.

An exhibition entitled Shakespeare at the Dramatyczny is being staged in the theater’s foyer. It features photographs and other materials documenting Shakespeare’s plays staged at the Dramatyczny and na Woli theaters, including Macbeth (1960) with Halina Mikołajska and Jan ¦widerski, Hamlet (1962) starring and directed by the legendary Gustaw Holoubek, and The Taming of the Shrew (1998) directed by Krzysztof Warlikowski.

M.R.

Dramatyczny Theater; Gustaw Holoubek Stage
Palace of Culture and Science; 1 Defilad Sq.
For upcoming performance dates go to www.teatrdramatyczny.pl
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