The Merchant of Venice
Beijing Comedy Arts Festival 2017
A Co-production of NCPA and Tianjie Group Drama The Merchant of Venice
Venue: National Centre for the Performing Arts - Beijing Comedy Theatre
Dates: December 14-17, 2017
NCPA has produced Shakespeare’s three works including A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Hamlet and King Lear since 2016. Themed with “the spirit of contract”, drama The Merchant of Venice co-produced by NCPA and Tianjie Group tells a story about love and friendship. Apart from drama performers, a band and a bel canto vocalist also join this performance.
Original Writer: William Shakespeare
Translator: ZHU Shenghao
*This drama is performed in CHINESE.
To chase after Portia, a wealthy successor who resides in Belmont, Bassanio intends to borrow money from his friend Antonio. But Antonio's money has been mortgaged on merchant ships away from Venice, so he has to ask for loan from usurious Shylock. Shylock promises to grant the loan with a rigid precondition: If Antonio fails to repay debt in due course, Shylock has the right to gut a pound of Antonio’s flesh.
In Belmont, the suitors are requested to guess which of the three boxes contain Portia’s photo, for Portia’s father wants her to be married to the suitor who makes the correct choice. When Portia feels unhappy, Bassanio comes late and selects the right box. In Venice, Shylock is informed that some of Antonio’s merchant ships are missing in the sea, so he is eager to honour the agreement. When Bassanio learns that Antonio has been arrested due to failure to repayment, he returns back to Venice. However, Shylock turns a deaf ear to all appeals from Bassanio.
Portia and her waiting-maid Nerissa respectively disguise as male judge Balthasar and his clerk, rushing to Venice to speak in defense of Antonio. In the court, Duke of Venice listens to Shylock's statement of the case, and points out that Shylock's claim for compensation is not legally effective. However, Sherlock objects. At this time, “Balthasar” presents “himself” and announces that if Shylock has no mercy on Antonio, the previous agreement must be honoured. But a pound of Antonio’s flesh must be accurately gutted, and even a drop of blood cannot be taken away. Shylock knows that he is unjustifiable so that he tries to escape from the court. As he viciously intends to hurt Antonio, he has to pay the price: His property is confiscated by the court, and his destiny is decided by Antonio. Eventually, Shylock's treacherous plot fails and Portia and Antonio get married.
NCPA Drama Ensemble was established on July 28th, 2016 and the renowned Chinese actor PU Cunxin was invited to be the Artistic Director. After rounds of audition across the country, 11 members stood out from a number of professional actors to become the first batch of actors for the team. Having received professional trainings on lines, performance, vocal performance, and body shaping, they finally appeared on the stage of NCPA. As another resident performance troupe following the China NCPA Orchestra, the China NCPA Chorus, and the NCPA Octet, the NCPA Drama Ensemble will focus on rehearsing dramas and participating in NCPA productions.
NCPA Drama Ensemble has taken part in several NCPA productions, including The Lei Family, Returning Home on a Snowy Night, A Midsummer Night's Dream and Jane Eyre, and the Ensemble is to present more exciting works in the future. Mr. PU Cunxin as the team’s artistic director is a celebrated actor at Beijing People's Art Theatre, and he is the Chairman of China Theatre Association as well. Moreover, Mr. PU has played important roles in many dramas, films and TV plays.