Launcelot Gobbo played by Stefan Adegbola
The Merchant of Venice (2016)
Written by: William Shakespeare
Stefan trained at Guildhall School of Music & Drama.
Previous work for Shakespeare’s Globe includes: The Merchant of Venice and The Comedy of Errors.
Other theatre includes: The Epic Adventure of Nhamo the Manyika Warrior and his Sexy Wife Chipo; The Legend of Hamba (Tiata Fahodzi, UK Tour); Othello (Riverside Studios); A Midsummer Night’s Dream (Michael Grandage Company, Noel Coward Theatre); After Independence (Arcola Theatre); Widowers’ Houses (Orange Tree Theatre), and The Christians (Traverse, Edinburgh and Gate Theatre, London).
"Thematically, it was palpable that we were in America, especially starting off in New York where there is, of course, a massive Jewish population. And so with our production which is unflinching in showing the level of anti-Semitism that there is in that world of the play, there was a palpable sense of discomfort from the audience."
Catching up with Stefan on the American leg of the tour, he reflects on the cultural significance of the play, audience reactions to the subject matter, and his own reaction to America.
"Without getting political about this, I think that we have gotten into a mindset that if you perform a play in a theatre where one half is lit and the other half is not, those who are sat in the unlit half are expected to sit quietly and just watch. When in actual fact, the point is that we are all there for connection."
Reflecting on the first leg of the tour in Liverpool, Stefan discusses bringing the play indoors, the challenges this brings with it, and engaging with audiences.
"It’s been wonderful, having new voices and new people in. Not least because of their takes on their characters, which are so incredibly individual and lovely to add to the mix of what we had before."
As rehearsals continue, Stefan discusses the joys and challenges of reprising a role: how to keep characterisation fresh, hearing lines differently, and improvising with international audiences.
"When Jonathan Munby told me about the concept of bringing people up on stage and using them, I thought, ‘What a great idea!’ It's part improve, part stand-up, it’s kind of conspiratorial. It’s a very sneaky, clever, subtle way of keeping the audience involved with what’s going on throughout."
As rehearsals start, Stefan talks to Stage Manager Kevin Bennett about reprising his role, reflects on performing at the Globe, and looks forward to performing in other venues on the tour.