“Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” – George Santayana
In The Merchant of Venice, written in 1597, the young Shakespeare again performs his magic, taking elements from Italian tales and contemporary works (Marlowe’s The Jew of Malta) and giving his own spin. His Christians are not merciful heroes, and his Shylock is not a greedy villain. His comedy does not end comfortably. Given today’s news cycle, what better play for us to explore?
We just came back from a trip to Provence, and I couldn’t help but be struck by the overwhelming and historical Christian dominance of everyday life. Whether Catholic or Protestant, it was a Christian world. Anyone else was ‘the other’ and perhaps tolerated, but also feared, and therefore tightly controlled. In the tiny town of Vaison la Romaine there is a sign pointing to ‘La Juiverie’, a narrow, isolated lane – with a huge bolted gate. Today that sign could also point to the African sector or the Asian sector, and not just in the streets, but in our minds. We Americans are no different. Arab, Jew, Gay, Female, Foreign, Intellectual – ‘the other’.
Join us to listen to this brilliant 16th Century portrayal of justice vs. mercy. In today’s darkness of world tension, a shaft of light is most welcome, isn’t it?- Lance Davis