Shakespeare's Globe

RSS Rehearsal Notes 2

Norbert is now exploring Shylock's insecurity, he feels that Shylock is afraid to dine with Bassanio and Antonio – he is an alien in Venice and insecure in certain situations.

Transcript of Podcast

Norbert is now exploring Shylock's insecurity, he feels that Shylock is afraid to dine with Bassanio and Antonio – he is an alien in Venice and insecure in certain situations. Norbert feels that Shylock is obsessed with his own thoughts and feelings.

The process of rehearsal for The Merchant of Venice is quite different from the way Norbert works in Germany – for this production there is a great deal more discussion and improvisation of ideas or moments that are not actually in the text. Norbert recently had a ‘character session’ where the other actors explore the character of Shylock and can question him in role (in effect, hotseating). He has also compiled lists of what is said about his character and what Shylock says about himself.

Norbert is a founder member of the Bremer Shakespeare Company, in his work with this company he takes a very different approach to productions. The company begins with a concept of what they would like to tell or communicate with their production of a play. They then explore the ways in which the text conforms to, or deviates from this concept and develop the production accordingly.

As part of his research for the role of Shylock Norbert has visited a synagogue and spent the Sabbath with a Jewish family. Norbert continually returns to the question of anti-Semitism in the play. Is The Merchant of Venice an anti-Semitic play? Most Jewish people that Norbert has talked to so far interpret the play as the story of one person, not the Jews – if Shylock's actions are viewed as the actions of one person then the play is not anti-Semitic. Norbert is aware, however that there are many different interpretations of this issue.

Norbert feels that when Jessica elopes with Lorenzo she symbolically dies for him, this is a personal tragedy for Shylock and influences all his future actions in the play.

These comments are the actor's thoughts or ideas about the part as s/he goes through the rehearsal process – they are simply his/her own interpretations and frequently change as the rehearsal process progresses.

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