THE MERCHANT OF VENICE | Play | Ivan Vazov National Theatre
13 September, Friday 19:00 Main stage Premiere

THE MERCHANT OF VENICE

Duration
03 h 00 m (with interval)
Genre
Tragicomedy
Age restriction
Not suitable for persons under 16

Production team:

Тranslation
Alexander Shurbanov
CONCEIVED AND DIRECTED BY
Javor Gardev
Set Designer
Nikola Toromanov
Costume designer
Svila Velichkova
Stage movement
Andrea Gavriliu
Video and graphic design
Vladislav Iliev
Lighting designer
Ilya Pashnin
Assistant Director
Lyuba Todorova

THE MERCHANT OF VENICE

By William Shakespeare

A project about globalization, identities, and culture wars.

Version 1 - Sephardic

 

TRANSLATED BY:

Alexander Shurbanov

 

TRANSLATION OF EXCERPTS FROM ENGLISH INTO JUDEO-SPANISH (LADINO):

Daisy Braverman

TRANSLATION OF EXCERPTS FROM ENGLISH INTO ARABIC:

Khalil Mutran

TRANSLATION OF EXCERPTS FROM ENGLISH INTO ARAGONESE:

Dabi Lahiguera

 

The production includes texts by Gaius Valerius Catullus, Guido Cavalcanti, Pierre de Ronsard, Edmund Spenser, and Heinrich Heine, as well as excerpts from the French translation of the play by François Pierre Guillaume Guizot, the German translation, by August Wilhelm von Schlegel, and the Italian, by Carlo Rusconi.

 

CONCEIVED AND DIRECTED BY:

Javor Gardev

SET DESIGNER:

Nikola Toromanov

COSTUME DESIGN:

Svila Velichkova

MUSIC BY:

Kalin Nikolov

VOCALS:

Denitza Seraphim

STAGE MOVEMENT:

Andrea Gavriliu

Video and graphic design:

Vladislav Iliev

LIGHT DESIGN:

Ilya Pashnin

ASSISTANT DIRECTOR:

Lyuba Todorova

CONSULTANT:

Boika Sokolova, The University of Notre Dame (USA) in England 

CONSULTANT:

Darya Lazarenko (European Shakespeare Research Association and Ukrainian Shakespeare Centre, New Bulgarian University)

DRAMATURGE:

Mira Todorova

PHOTOGRAPHER:

Yana Lozeva

AR filter:

Mihail Iliev

STAGE MANAGER:

Elena Kostova, Meglena Dimitrova

GRAPHIC DESIGN:

Nikolay Dimitrov NAD, Yanina Petrova

VIDEO-TRAILER:

Stefan Zdraveski 

CONSULTANT – ARABIC LANGUAGE:

Khairi Hamdan

CONSULTANT AND TRANSLATOR OF EXCERPTS INTO SCOTTISH:

Ronan Paterson

CONSULTANT AND TRANSLATOR OF EXCERPTS INTO LATIN:

Dimitar Dragnev

 

CHARACTERS AND PERFORMERS

DUKE OF VENICE – Vladimir Penev
ANTONIO – Pavel Ivanov
SHYLOCK – Samuel Finzi 
BASSANIO – Aleksander Tonev
PORTIA – Radina Kardzhilova
GRATIANO – Plamen Dimov
NERISSA – Katalin Stareishinska
LORENZO – Nencho Kostov
JESSICA – Kremena Deyanova
SALERIO – Kaloyan Trifonov
SOLANIO – Asen Dankov
BELLARIO – Stelian Radev
BALTHAZAR – Yavor Valkanov
TUBAL – Stefan Kushev
LANCELET GOBO – Pavlin Petrunov
PRINCE OF MOROCCO – Zafir Radjab
PRINCE OF ARRAGON – Alexander Kanev

ON VIDEO:

THE NEAPOLITAN PRINCE – Kire Gyorevski
THE COUNTY PALATINE– Borislav Dimitrov-Bobo
MONSIEUR LE BON – Youlian Tabakov
BARON FALCONBRIDGE – Dimitar Nikolov
THE SCOTTISH LORD – Henry Eskelinen
THE DUKE OF SAXONY’S NEPHEW – Konstantin Stanchev

 

WORKS OF POETRY USED IN THE PRODUCTION:

Sonnet VII by Guido Cavalcanti
English translation by Ezra Pound 
Bulgarian translation by Alexander Shurbanov

Poem 75 by Gaius Valerius Catullus 
English translation by A. S. Kline 
Bulgarian translation by Dimitar Dragnev 

Sonnet XVII “Roses” by Pierre de Ronsard
English translation by Andrew Lang  
Bulgarian translation by Alexander Shurbanov

Sonnet XXX “Amoretti” by Edmund Spenser
Bulgarian translation by Alexander Shurbanov

Sonnet in Scots by Ronan Paterson
English translation by Ronan Paterson
Bulgarian translation by Alexander Shurbanov

Sonnet LIV by Heinrich Heine
English translator by Emma Lazarus
Bulgarian translation by Alexander Shurbanov

 

Special thanks to Kirilka Stavreva, Angel-Luis Pujante, Simeon Evstatiev, Joseph Benatov, Alessandro Massacci, Deni Boye 

 

William Shakespeare wrote “The Merchant of Venice” in 1596/1597. The play was first published in 1600, in a quarto edition. In 1623, seven years after its author’s death, it was included in the First Folio where it appears in the Comedies section. The play indeed shares  many of the features of Shakespeare’s romantic comedies; however, it contains a tragic dramatic potential in its plot, character relationships, and the socio-cultural, economic, personal, and societal problems which it deals with.

“The Merchant of Venice” is a riddle which seems to defy genre definition. Although all appears to end well (as in a comedy), the play grapples with serious problems which remain unresolved. Questions regarding religious and ethnic discrimination, economic power, cultural difference, gender relations resonate with our modern world of divisions, inequalities and conflict. 

Shakespeare homes in on the ambiguous margins where good and evil, joy and grief, transform into their opposites. This is perhaps his earliest play dealing with contradictions which arise from irrational emotional impulses, from the “hot temper”, which Portia mentions,  and the counterbalancing rationale of social order embodied in the law. Characters’ interactions appear to be triggered  by passions, inexplicable, obscure, irrational instincts, and prejudice of all kinds. Bonds are a complex mix of love, self-interest and financial calculation. Love and friendship are tainted by jealousy, competition and manipulation.

A new translation by Alexander Shurbanov was commissioned especially for Javor Gardev’s production which focuses on the animosity arising from a variety of differences, characterizing our globalized world. Gardev’s project has several versions. This one, entitled “Sephardic”, includes translations of  scenes into Judeo-Spanish (Ladino), Aragonese, Arabic, Scottish, and Latin. Texts by Gaius Valerius Catullus, Guido Cavalcanti, Pierre de Ronsard, Edmund Spenser, and Heinrich Heine have also been used.

Since its foundation, the National Theatre Ivan Vazov has staged four productions of “The Merchant of Venice”-- directed by Josef Šmaha ( 1906), Ivan Popov (a 1911 revival of Šmaha’s production), Hrisan Tsankov (1938) and Zdravko Mitkov (1992). Javor Gardev’s is the fifth adaptation on its stage, in a rendition for our time.

Mira Todorova

 

WALKING ON THIN ICE or PLAYING WITH FIRE 

hot temper, benign evil, and global culture wars

 

In this stage interpretation of “The Merchant of Venice” I focus on the storylines lurking beneath Shakespeare’s text. These plotlines develop under the surface of the cultural, identity, and confessional conflicts in the play, but are impossible to evade in a modern production of the play.

Those hidden plotlines touch upon the characters’ base passions, intuitions and predispositions. These are emotions, without an  ideological basis, conceptualized only after the event and then justified by the characters. 

Like the open-trade societies of the early modern period, of which Venice is among the most affluent, our contemporary globalized society is itself riddled with conflicts, which are not justified through doctrinal, ethnic and gender identifications, but seem rather to be the result of a “hot temper”, preceding any rational identification.

“Hot temper” is a predisposition which may manifest itself through a direct  natural attraction or repulsion between individuals.  At times, such attraction brings irresistible passion, while repulsion brings unbearable pain. Attraction and repulsion may be entirely spontaneous as an experience, occurring without any prior ideological reasoning and causing torment to those under their influence. Thus they effectively thrust them towards a secondary ideological identification with ideological communities whose purpose is to define the “cause” of their passion and create a cause-and-effect narrative regarding its existence.

Such a secondary ideological order offers the individuals in question no immunity against recurrent outbreaks of those exact passions; it merely points towards an external enemy who, by becoming the target of their aggression, acts as a release valve for the  endlessly recurring “natural” tension.

As a result of this cyclically recurring passionate tension, memories of past wars and their horrors present neither guarantee against, nor prevention from future conflict, just as the study of Kristallnacht in schools offers little hope against the recurrence of future pogroms.

On the contrary, those who study pogroms with the aim to learn from history may soon find themselves to be, in their turn, the cause of such pogroms, without even being aware of it. Though they may be sensitive, gentle, vulnerable people, they may feel the temptation to cause  some “innocent” mischief. Spontaneous impulses may drive them towards what seems innocent performance of mockery, but which would inevitably bring them future remorse and shame. Despite their kindhearted and non-violent nature, they may unwittingly become agents of “benign” evil which seems to place them in a position of moral superiority but slowly drowns them in a miasma of personal unhappiness.

For this reason, in the present reading of this polyphonic play, I have put the strongest emphasis on spontaneous events, paying particular attention to odd occurrences, impulsive behavioral paradoxes and the unexpected contradictions manifested by the characters.

I am curious about the daughters who, despite their emancipation, secretly hope that their own free choice will magically coincide with their father’s will.

I’m curious about those who selflessly offer to die for their friends without any particular need for such sacrifice.

I am curious about those who are pure of heart and who are forced to mature suddenly under the weight of an unbearable responsibility thrust upon them out of the blue. 

I am curious about those who stand in solidarity with others, ready to risk their personal happiness and gamble it away depending on the happiness of those others.

I am curious about the moneylenders who are willing to cancel the interest due to them so that they may receive recognition of their human dignity.

I am curious about those of a nostalgic disposition, who at night whisper to their nearest and dearest in their native tongue, while during the day engage in the building of the global Tower of Babel.

I’m curious about those who, having playfully goofed around, sullen their gaze in the process of realization that their game was played on thin ice.

* “hot temper” is taken from Portia’s line in “The Merchant of Venice” “The brain may devise laws for the blood, but a hot temper leaps o’er a cold decree.” 

Javor Gardev

 

The production is performed with English subtitles.

*This performance is NOT suitable for people suffering from photosensitive epilepsy.

 

Premiere: 12th and 13th of May 2024

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