Merchant of Venice – The Final Five

Merchant of Venice – The Final Five

The Merchant of Venice is about to head into its final five performances in Singapore. By Sunday, it will have played to around 30,000 people over the month and the audience response has been tremendous.

Directing Shakespeare in the Park is as challenging as it is rewarding. It is a huge task to build what is a small village to cope with more than 2,000 patrons and a hugely ambitious production for our month at Fort Canning.

Remesh Paniker as Shylock

Remesh Paniker as Shylock

The challenges of producing a piece of outdoor theatre in the tropics are not to be underestimated. Lighting and sound equipment has to be able to cope with the daily rigours of heat and torrential rain. We have motorisation in the show to raise and lower the caskets which has to be checked daily. Conditions underfoot can be treacherous for actors and wearing costumes with many layers under powerful hot lights in a humid climate is a physical strain before you even move! Imagine wearing a 3 piece suit and coat in a steam room for 3 hours and you come somewhere close to experiencing what our actors go though on a daily basis. It’s tough. Add to that a 6 minute movement prologue created by one of the worlds best movement director, Frantic Assembly Artistic Director Scott Graham, and you know the actors are earning every penny before they say a word!

I could not have been better supported by my wonderful team. It has been so rewarding to go back and work with so many people for the 2nd and 3rd time. From my tremendous company manager Victoria Lim and her team to my talented Assistant Director Natalie Wong, the production could not have been better supported and we are incredibly fortunate to have had them collaborate on this show. The team at SRT lead by Artistic Director Gaurav Kripalani and Executive Director Charlotte Nors are bold, adventurous and incredibly supportive. They work tirelessly to create productions of the highest quality and have succeeded with this one.

The Merchant of Venice set

The Merchant of Venice set

The creative team have worked tirelessly to create a piece of theatre that works in the Park for a Singaporean audience while offering our regulars something different to previous years. Richard Kent is a wonderfully talented designer who I hope to work with many times in my career. Rick Fisher and Mike Walker are great friends of mine and wonderful artists in their own right. It is always a pleasure to work with them. Scott Graham’s work on the show has added to the quality of the production in so many ways. I am very proud of the opening sequence in the play and think it absolutely establishes the world of the play and gives the audience a flavour of the relationships they are about to see unfold and develop during the course of the show. It acts like a sort of movement overture to the beginning of the play; A prologue to the play.

The standard of acting in the company has been incredibly high. Lovely nuanced performances that have grown throughout the run. The actors have fed off the audience response and every show has been slightly different as a result. Keeping the pace, energy and clarity of the story is vital in any production, especially Shakespeare. You can lose an audience very quickly if you are not absolutely committed to what you are doing from moment to moment. They have managed to sustain and improve with every performance. That is as it should be. My admiration and respect for them is immeasurable.

The final five shows. Five more opportunities to share this production with audiences in Singapore. I am so proud of what has been created by all involved and the privilege has been mine in leading it.

For anyone not in Singapore here is the trailer for the show to give you a taster of what you’re missing:

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