Shakespeare Solved® versions of these plays solve the mysteries surrounding them by taking us back in time to see the plays as they were performed for the first time in history.
This blog explains these new versions, and explores the life and times of Shakespeare, in order to build support for my new TV series versions of the plays.
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MERCHANT OF VENICE
Why is The Merchant of Venice such a problem play?
Why has the play been performed as a tragedy, when it was written as a comedy?
Why has it been mis-understood and mis-performed for over 400 years?
Who is Shylock, the Jewish moneylender?
Why has he been mistakenly performed as a villain for over 400 years?
Why is he in fact the hero of the play?
Is the play anti-Semitic?
Was Shakespeare anti-Semitic?
These questions have never been answered.
My version of this play, entitled Shakespeare's Premiere of The Merchant of Venice, answers them for the first time.
This new version makes the play easy to read and the meaning of the play is perfectly clear to anyone, whether you are familiar with the play or not.
This new version of the play takes us back in time to see Merchant as it would have been originally performed in London by Shakespeare himself and his company of actors.
Only by seeing the play in its original historical context can we understand why Shakespeare wrote the play and what it meant to him.
In this way, we can finally understand that Shakespeare was not anti-Semitic, the play is not an attack against the Jews.
Far from it. Shakespeare attacks everyone except the Jews.
I would like to share with you some thoughts about my version of The Merchant of Venice.
Some years ago I rented a film version of Merchant, starring Al Pacino as Shylock. It changed my life.
The last thing I expected when I rented that movie was discovering a new way to adapt Shakespeare.
Why didn't it happen to someone else? Preferably a professor from a prestigious university. Right?
But here I am. I discovered it. Go figure.
Maybe it's because I have watched so much comedy in my life. I like funny movies.
I consider Mel Brooks' Blazing Saddles the funniest movie ever made. Or maybe The Jerk. Or maybe Monty Python and the Holy Grail. Or maybe Talledega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby. It's hard to choose.
If you've seen those, or American Pie, There's Something About Mary, The Hangover, 40 Year Old Virgin, Animal House, Meet the Fockers, Wedding Crashers, Borat, Bruno, and now The Dictator -- then you will understand the comedy in Merchant. It will almost seem familiar.
Why? Because a play like this is the source of all of those films.
Steve Martin, Jim Carrey, and the comedians in Monty Python and so forth -- they all owe a debt to Shakespeare.
Shakespeare was there long before them, making audiences cry with laughter. I think most people have an impression that Shakespeare is dreadfully dull and boring.
Have I got a surprise for you!
I love the phrase "bring the funny." Shakespeare knew how to bring the funny.
I have a theory that the greatest actors in Shakespeare's day were more like stand-up comedians than they were like Thespians -- with a capital "T."
They were funny. They knew how to work a crowd.
They were more like Chris Rock, Eddie Izzard, Robin Williams, and Russell Brand.
You may be surprised by this. Once you start reading my version of Merchant, I think you will agree with me.
If you don't like those kinds of movies, then Merchant may not be for you. You may find the humor offensive.
If you have seen a sit-com lately then you will be familiar with all of the sex jokes, and sexual innuendo. I have a hard time finding a sit-com these days that is not all about sex.
There is humor at the expense of Shylock, the Jew. That is a different matter. You may read it and not like it.
But stick with it because Shylock is actually -- SPOILER ALERT! -- the hero of the play.
I didn't invent the play. Shakespeare did that.
But when I was watching Al Pacino's version of the play, I could see a hilarious, crazy and bawdy comedy hidden underneath the melodramatic version on the screen.
What I have done is to try to uncover what would be funny in any given scene, and any given line. I may be wrong here and there. But I think that you will find that I worked in good faith, and with the best of intentions.
Shakespeare brought the funny with Merchant.
Then it was lost. For over 400 years!
I think you will agree with me that I found it again.
I hope you enjoy reading my version of The Merchant of Venice -- it's my favorite play of his!
If you have any comments please reply below, or you can email me directly HERE
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