Audition Notice : The Merchant of Venice

by William Shakespeare. Directed by Peter Foster
Performance dates and venue :
Thursday 2nd to Saturday 11th September at the Tower Theatre.

Audition dates and times :
Wednesday 9th June from 6.30 to 9.30
Friday 11th June from 6.30 to 9.30.

This is one of Shakespeare’s great comedies with a very well balanced cast of characters. The play covers racism (particularly anti-Semitism) and homosexuality among other issues. We are setting this production of The Merchant of Venice in 1930s fascist Italy when these particular issues were as central then as they were in Shakespeare’s England.

With its confusion of traders, money lending, love that relies on controlling fathers (one from beyond the grave), a riddle of caskets, and rings that bind and are lost, Merchant also reveals the dark side of trading concealing anti-Semitism and a society at odds with itself. Disguise, cross-dressing, beauty, and harsh words and deeds all vie for our attention in this compelling play.

We will be company of 15 performers, with some doubling. Major roles will be male and female as written. It would be too confusing otherwise with an already complex plot and much cross dressing and disguise. Other roles will be cast from the best actors available regardless of sex, apart from the two, male, suitors to Portia.

Casting auditions are only for fully paid up Company members. Your eligibility to audition will be checked when you audition. If anyone wishes to audition but cannot attend on the dates specified please let the Director know. If you would like to join the company you will need to take a company audition. To arrange this please contact the auditions co-ordinator Stephen Brasher.

A number of the roles have already been cast, as this production was originally planned for 2020, however we are looking for four or five members to complete the cast, with some doubling.

The following roles are still to be cast :
Lorenzo, M 20s/30s, in love with Jessica.
Launcelot, 20/40s. Shylock’s servant.
Old Gobbo, 50s/60s. Launcelot’s father.
Solanio, 30s/60s.
Servant, to Portia.
Tubal, 50s/60s, a friend of Shylock.
Jailer, at the prison.
Three Caskets, in Portia’s house.

The ages suggested are playing ages. Where no age or sex is suggested, there is complete flexibility.

The play moves swiftly between Venice and Belmont, and we will have a flexible set, moved by the cast between scenes.

There will be an availability chart at auditions for prospective cast members to complete.

Rehearsals will take place on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 6.30pm until 9.30pm and on Saturdays from 10 am until 2pm, starting from Saturday 17th July.

The full cast must be available for the get in and fit up on Sunday 29th August, and for Technical and Dress rehearsals on Monday 30th, Tuesday 31st August and Wednesday 1st September.

Please contact the Director, Peter Foster, by email if you would like to audition.

Peter Foster
Director : Peter Foster
Set Design : Peter Foster and Miranda Melville
Costume Design : Elizabeth Dawson
Lighting Design : Laurence Tuerk
Sound Design : Tamara Douglas-Morris
Stage Manager : Katia Elsianli

For the Tower, Peter Foster has designed The Winter’s Tale and Gainsborough’s Girls. He is currently Chairman of the Tower’s Management Committee. Recently he directed the award winning Arms and the Man for SEDOS at the Bridewell Theatre. Peter joined English National Opera as a Staff Producer where, over seven years, he directed major revivals from across the repertoire. He has taught at both Guildhall and Trinity, and was senior acting tutor at the London Theatre School. He works as a speech trainer with national politicians and City executives.