Washington, D.C.'s commedia dell 'arte specialists, Faction of Fools Theatre Company, is again setting its sights on William Shakespeare as it schedules a workshop for The Merchant of Venice March 6–8 at Gallaudet University's Eastman Studio Theatre–Elstad Annex.
Led by Associate Artistic Director Paul Reisman, a company of six artists will stage several scenes from one of Shakespeare's most controversial plays in an effort to reclaim it from a modern discourse by using commedia dell'arte as a lens to reveal the script's original humor, rich relationships, and sense of play.
Faction has a history of re-examining Shakespeare's plays. It explored the comedic roots in the most famous of his tragedies with A Commedia Romeo & Juliet and Hamlecchino: Clown Prince of Denmark. In 2014 the company staged a bloody funny Titus Andronicus that nevertheless presented the play's pathos.
This workshop production of Merchant goes beyond a traditional reading, allowing the actors to get up on their feet to perform selected scenes from the play, staging the text using minimal sets, costumes, and props. A Q&A session will be part of each performance, allowing the artists to discuss the workshop process, develop ideas, and hear from the audience. Some of Faction's biggest hits have come out of a workshop series, including A Commedia Romeo & Juliet and Hamlecchino (Kennedy Center's Millennium Stage), A Commedia Christmas Carol (Constellation Theatre), and Our Town (Arena Cradle Series), which earned the top spot on Shakespeareances.com's annual theater experience rankings for 2015.
The Merchant workshop is presented as part of Commedia dell'Arte Day, an annual international event on February 25. Performers, scholars, and institutions around the world celebrate commedia dell'arte as theatrical performance and cultural heritage. For more information on Commedia dell'Arte Day, visit http://www.commediadellarteday.org/
Tickets for the Merchant of Venice workshop, with a minimum suggested donation of $5, are available at http://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/2507926 or by calling 800-838-3006. All workshop showings are ASL interpreted, appropriate for all ages, and will run approximately 75 minutes.
February 17, 2016