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Audition Notice (Production and Tour) : The Merchant of Venice

Thursday January 16 @ 7:00 pm


Performance dates and venues :

Wednesday 13th – Saturday 16th and Tuesday 19th – Saturday 23rd May at 7.30
Matinées on Saturdays 16th and 23rd May at 3.00
to be performed at the Tower Theatre, Stoke Newington

This production is also to be performed in Paris from Tuesday 2nd – Sunday 7th June.
to be performed at the Théâtre de Verdure, Jardin Shakespeare, Paris.

Company members will be required to be in Paris from Saturday 30th May – Monday 8th June.

Any financial costs (travel, accommodation) for the Paris Tour are the responsibility of the company member. However, the Tour Manager will help arrange your travel and accommodation if you wish.

Please make sure to confirm your availability for all these dates before auditioning.

These auditions are for Tower Theatre Company Members only.

If you would like to join the company you will need to take a company audition. To arrange this please contact one of the auditions co-ordinators : Peter Westbury or Stephen Brasher

Audition Dates & Times :
Saturday 11th January at 2.00, Tuesday 14th January at 7.00, and Thursday 16th January at 7.00,  at the Tower Theatre, Stoke Newington

Recalls on Saturday 18th January at 2.00, if required.

If you plan to audition, follow this link to the audition form.
Please complete and print it to bring along with you.


For the London performances, the full cast must be available for the get in and fit up on Sunday 10th May, and for Technical and Dress rehearsals on Monday 11th and Tuesday 12th May.

The Paris performances are “self funding”, and from experience of previous years the total cost is in the range of £350 – £750 depending on the type of accommodation  and form of travel chosen. Company members either stay at the Hotel Perfect or group together to rent flats in the same area (near the foot of Montmartre). Most of the company meet up for post-show drinks and snacks in this area, and all of us attend a first night supper and a final night get together (Sunday 7th June, after the performance and get out) for a slightly more formal round of eating, drinking and festivities.

More details about Paris will be available from the tour manager once you are cast.

It is best, and cheapest, to book travel and accommodation as soon as possible. There will be a van making the journey to and from Paris with three people, including the driver, and this transport is free on a first come, first served basis.

Rehearsals will take place on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 6.30 until 9.30 and on Saturdays from 10.00 until 2.00, starting from Saturday 8th February at the Tower Theatre, Stoke Newington.

If you have any questions about the play or the production, or cannot come to the auditions
on the dates shown please contact the Director, Peter Foster.

Peter Foster

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

The director writes :

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 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.

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

As we are setting The Merchant of Venice in 1938, hairstyles both male and female will need to be suited to that period as well as to character. There cannot be exceptions to this as it will look wrong and be confusing for the audience.

The play moves swiftly between Venice and Belmont, and we will have a flexible set, moved by the cast between scenes.  The play will be cut to give a running time of around 2 hours; the draft of version to be used can be downloaded from here.  A list of the sections of text to be used for the auditions can be downloaded from here.

The major roles (not doubling) are :

Antonio (M 40s/50s) : A rich Venetian merchant in love with Bassanio.

(M 20s/30s) : A Venetian playboy in love with Portia.

(M 40s/50s) : A Jewish moneylender.

(F 20s) : A rich landowner.

(F 20s/30s) : Portia’s companion.

(F 20s) : Shylock’s daughter.

(M 20s/30s) : A friend of Antonio.

(M 20s/30s) : in love with Jessica.

(M 20/30s) : Shylock’s servant.

Minor roles (six actors, M/F, some doubling).
These company members will also appear in a range of other scenes.

Prince of Morocco (M 30s) : A suitor to Portia.

Duke of Aragon
(M 30s) : A suitor to Portia.

Duke (Doge) of Venice

Old Gobbo
(50s/60s) : Launcelot’s father.


(30s/40s) : three Venetians.

, from Venice.

to Portia.

(50s/60s) : a friend of Shylock.

at the trial.

at the prison.

Three Caskets
, in Portia’s house.

Production Team

We are looking for the following :
Stage Manager
Wardrobe Supervisor

If you are interested in either of these roles or in being involved in the show in any other capacity please contact the Director, Peter Foster.


Thursday January 16th
7:00 pm


Tower Theatre
Tower Theatre Company, 16 Northwold Rd, Stoke Newington
London, N16 7HR United Kingdom
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020 7353 5700