Merchant Auditions 2012

Our Signature Shakespeare Production will be Merchant, an adaptation of Shakespeare’s classic Merchant of Venice, adapted and directed by Gordon Mills.

Auditions for this production will take place on Saturday, July 21st, 2012, starting at 10:00am, at The Hub, East Bay Street & Colebrooke Lane.

Below you will find a synopsis of the play followed by links to the audition pieces for each character:

SYNOPSIS

Bassanio, a young man in Nassau who has wasted all his money, has fallen in love with a beautiful woman from Acklins but needs cash to stand a chance of winning her hand. He asks his great friend, Antonio, to lend him some but although he is wealthy, Antonio has no ready cash – his money is all tied up in his shipping business at the time. However, Antonio agrees to be the guarantor if Bassanio can arrange a deal with one of the loan sharks in Bay Street.

Bassanio strikes a deal with Shylock, a Haitian moneylender, but the arrangement involves Antonio having to pay a forfeit of a pound of his flesh to shylock should he not pay back the loan on the stipulated date.

Meanwhile, Shylock’s daughter, Jessica, has run away with another of Bassanio’s friends, Lorenzo, and has taken cash and jewelry from the Haitian’s store.

Bassanio sets off for Acklins with a third friend, Gratiano who is loud and talkative, and in the lottery devised by Portia’s late father before he died, Bassanio wins the fair lady’s hand. Gratiano of the eagle eye spotted Portia’s maid, Nerissa, and promptly proposed to her.

There is to be no double wedding celebration however, because news reaches Acklins that Antonio’s ventures have all failed. He is bankrupt and must pay Shylock. Portia and Nerissa give their husbands rings, which the men swear never to take off their fingers, and Bassanio and Gratiano leave their new wives after two quiet ceremonies and head back to Nassau. Portia and Nerissa plan to spend their husbands’ absence in contemplation at a convent.

Shylock takes Antonio to court to gain the contents of his bond and despite pleas from the Attorney general for Shylock to be lenient; all seems to be pointing to the death of Antonio. At that moment a young lawyer and his clerk arrive and the young lawyer starts to represent Antonio, turning the case against Shylock. Unbeknown to the people in the courtroom, the lawyer is Portia and after obtaining Antonio’s acquittal he/she is offered anything as payment. After refusing but being pressed further, he/she asks for the ring on Bassanio’s finger.  He refuses but at Antonio’s entreating, gives in and gives it to the lawyer. A similar thing happens between Nerissa (the clerk) and Gratiano.

Everyone goes to Acklins where the missing rings seem to be about to cause irreparable rifts between the couples until Portia and Nerissa tell the whole story and all’s well that ends well.

CHARACTERS – (press the character’s name below to download the audition piece for that specific character).

ANTONIO – is the merchant of the title; he is rich but unhappy. A very good friend of Bassanio but without the latter’s love of life. He very willingly stakes his life for his friend.

BASSANIO – young and headstrong; has wasted a lot of money but now seems to have ‘grown up’. Great friends with Antonio and head over heels in love with Portia.

ATTORNEY GENERAL – presides over the court scene as judge; is important in linking the conflicting elements in that scene. Could be old…

GRATIANO – friend to Bassanio who travels with him to Acklins in quest of Portia’s hand. Noisy and talkative, he marries Nerissa and plays a vital role in the court scene.

JESSICA – Shylock’s daughter who is unhappy with her over-protective father. Has fallen in love with Lorenzo and runs away with him.

LAUNCELOT – begins the play as Shylock’s servant but, much to Jessica’s dismay, switches to serve Bassanio. Trustworthy and loyal.

LORENZO – another of Bassanio’s fun-loving friends. In love with Jessica who he persuades to elope with him.

NERISSA – Portia’s handmaiden and her very good friend, she is also intelligent and witty. Loyal and cheeky, she wins the heart of Gratiano and marries him. Disguises herself as a man too.

PORTIA – the play’s heroine whose father left her to the fate of a game of chance. Young, Witty, intelligent and very beautiful, she is more than a match for all the males in the play – even when disguised as one!

SHYLOCK – the play’s antagonist; a Haitian moneylender whose vindictive streak is his downfall. Hates Antonio and all Bahamians. Has a daughter, Jessica, who elopes with Lorenzo.

Download a PDF of the synopsis

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