The production of the Merchant of Venice was made possible by the Marco Island Shakespeare Festival (MISF). They are a young professional ensemble and are the theater wing of Marco Island Academy. According to Jacquielynn Wolff, Founding Artistic and Executive Director, the mission of MISF is “to pierce the human sub-conscious and act as a lookingglass to the audience (society),” a quote by Konstantin Stanislavski.The recent productions of Merchant of Venice commemorated ten years of service to the local and global community. The performances were held at the beautiful Marco Lutheran Church theater and was free to the public. It was MISF’s gift to the wonderful, caring, supportive congregation of Marco Lutheran
Church. It was also their gift to the community.
The Merchant of Venice plot: A young Venetian, Bassanio, needs a loan of three thousand ducats so that he can woo Portia, a wealthy Venetian heiress. He asks his friend Antonio for a loan. Antonio said he is short of money because all his money is tied up in his fleet, which is currently at sea. Bassanio borrows money from a Jewish moneylender, Shylock, who agrees to lend the money, on the condition that if Antonio (his guarantor) does not pay him back by an agreed time, Shylock may cut off a pound of flesh from him. Not taking Shylock seriously, Antonio agreed to the deal.The wealthy heiress Portia is unhappy with her many suitors. By her father’s will, she must marry the man who chooses from three caskets. The suitor who chooses the right casket containing her portrait will be the winner. The three caskets (gold, silver and lead) each contained an inscription outside and also contained notes inside. On the rich looking gold casket, the message read, “Who chooseth me shall gain what many men desire.” Inside contained a skull with a very famous message: “All that glitters is not gold.” In other words – appearances are often deceiving or something may not be as beneficial or as valuable as it appears.
The inscription on the silver casket: “Who chooseth me shall get as much as he deserves.” Inside contained the mask of a fool with another nasty note saying, ”With one fool’s head I came to woo, But I go away with two.”
The lead casket, which is made of a very ordinary metal, is the exact opposite of the gold and silver caskets – but contained the picture of Portia. The inscription: “Who chooseth me must give and hazard all he hath.” Bassanio chose this casket and was rewarded with Portia’s portrait and her hand in marriage.
The strength of the production owed much to the young and energetic cast members and the creative editing of the director to streamline a very long play.