Casting the Merchant of Venice

Merchant PosterSingapore preparation under way!

Merchant of Venice prep is in full swing. We are almost cast now and the creatives are all on board.

Casting a show on Skype is something I have got used to over the last couple of years. It is strange not to be in the same room as the actors but that is not always possible when you are casting actors who live 15 hours away by plane! Casting actors from the UK to go out to Singapore to perform can be a challenge too. I have been lucky to work with some fantastic talent on the last two show.

Neil McCaul with andy Tear and Adrian Pang in Twelfth Night

Neil McCaul with andy Tear and Adrian Pang in Twelfth Night

Neil McCaul with Andy Tear and Adrian Pang in Twelfth Night[/caption]Neil McCaul was great as Toby Belch in Twelfth Night. He is such a lovely actor and a great company member. Full of energy and invention. He had also spent quite a bit of time in the Far East so he knew what to expect both culturally and climate wise. He was wonderful support to me. The younger less experienced members of the company struggled with Shakespeare’s language and Neil was very encouraging and would spend a lot of time with them coaching.

Daniel Francis as Othello & Wendy Kweh as Desdemona

Daniel Francis as Othello & Wendy Kweh as Desdemona

Last year, I worked with Daniel Francis from the UK. Daniel was strong and driven as Othello. His performance was intense and meticulously crafted. It is a tough play on the actor playing Othello, lots of deep psychologically disturbing places for an actor to go. Daniel was up for adventure and rigorous in his preparation and routine. He had spent less time in the Far East than Neil and had a real problem with bugs (an interesting challenge when acting outside at night in a tropical country in a 3 hour play!) He overcame all of this to deliver an Othello whose charm and affability in the first part of the play allowed his change into the jealous enraged warrior. It is a role I am sure he will play again in the UK and audiences here will be in for a treat.

Bassanio and Gratiano will be coming from the UK this year and Merchant is going to be a chance for me to direct a very different kind of production to the last two years. We are setting it in a very modern Singapore; there will be a commodities type stock exchange where the main work of the characters will take place. The set will be more expressionistic and use lighting and projection in a very different way to previous year. I am more interested in unlocking the play for a modern audience rather than forcing a concept on it. I want the world to be vivid in texture and detail.

Looking forward to rehearsals in March but there is a lot to do between now and then … I better get back to it!

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