The Merchant of Venice

full Venice set

The Long Beach Shakespeare Company 2007
click on a thumbnail to see a full production photo

full Venice set full Belmont set Venice scene Venice window detail Venice gondola scene Belmont night scene stage right detail
bridge detail            

What was very important to the director with the feel of this show was that it was a romantic comedy. This is one of the most controversial Shakespearean productions, and often times it ends up as a tragedy or something ambiguous in between. However, when Shakespeare wrote this, there was not the controversy that there is today, and he wrote it as a romantic comedy - and that is how we intended to produce it. So the look of the scenery had to reflect this. The show has two very distinct areas - outdoors around the canals in Venice, and inside a manor house at Belmont. I opened up a large portion of the stage for the Venice scene and have increased the depth of our stage by adding a bridge that goes off backstage, making the playing area go back further than it has in the past. This bridge was styled in the Venice canal look so we could actually have a gondola come out from underneath (although due to our low ceilings the bridge could not be too high and therefore neither could anything that has to pass beneath it). Then it is finished off with the stage right walls being painted like buildings, and the stage left wall being painted as if it was the continuation of the Venice canal cityscape. For Belmont, the upstage right wall in Venice actually pivoted all the way stage left to cover the bridge and the canal and reveal a different upstage right wall, thus creating the interior. Color was very important, I wanted to keep it light so as to better translate into the romantic comedy aspect - which I think was achieved despite my personal tendency to be wary of mixing various bright colors on stage - as a whole it all works. Lighting was pretty basic. Although I tried to make the two areas distinct; using strong blues for both, but then amber warms for Venice to make it warmer and dirtier, and rose warms for Belmont to make is softer and pinker. The only cue that wasn’t basic was a romantic night scene outside at Belmont to finish the show - very blue, very rose, quite pretty.