Every year as part of the company’s Main Stage season Classical Theatre Company produces at least one work by William Shakespeare. For their fifth anniversary season CTC will produce Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice. This play is known in the classical canon for the harsh scrutiny with which it views the existence of both racism and intolerance in society. Further exploring this theme, CTC’s three-man staging of the play takes place in a sorting room in the World War II death camp of Auschwitz. In CTC’s production the setting of Auschwitz is a homage to other great renditions of this play, such as Tibor Egervari’s Shakespeare’s Merchant of Venice in Auschwitz, as well as an uncomfortable prism that juxtaposes the elegant words of Shakespeare with one of the most terrible places man has devised.
Through the course of their performance the prisoners are able to express their own stories and injustices calling on the strength in Shakespeare’s words. The play does not end with a clear-cut resolution or with definitive answers on the issues of power and inequality. However, this production does stimulate the question of how our own prejudices big and small, blatant and subtle affect the lives of others and shape the world we all share. While not as satisfying as resolution, stimulating thought is sometimes the most effective step a society can take towards progress.
The Classical Theatre Company is dedicated to boldly re-envisioning classical drama on the stage, in the community, and in the classroom through engaging and enlightening plays – bringing them new life and relevance while maintaining the integrity that the works deserve.
The Merchant of Venice
Wednesday – Sunday, March 27 – April 14
Spring Street Studios
1824 Spring Street
Houston, TX 77007