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Home :: Archive :: 1995 :: September ::
Re: Antonio
Shakespeare Electronic Conference, Vol. 6, No. 0712, Friday, 22 September 1995.
 
(1)     From:   Sean Lawrence <
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        Date:   Thursday, 21 Sep 1995 13:53:10 -0700 (PDT)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 6.0701 Re: Antonio
 
(2)     From:   Joe Nathan <
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        Date:   Thursday, 21 Sep 1995 18:15:42 -0700
        Subj:   Antonio -MV
 
 
(1)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Sean Lawrence <
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Date:           Thursday, 21 Sep 1995 13:53:10 -0700 (PDT)
Subject: 6.0701 Re: Antonio
Comment:        Re: SHK 6.0701 Re: Antonio
 
Hi.
 
On Antonio's anti-semitism, look up a New York production in the eighties with
Dustin Hoffman as Shylock.  Apparently the audience response to Bassanio
spitting at him was to suck in all the air in the theater.
 
My impression has always been that Antonio is less anti-semitic than Bassanio,
and certainly less than the salad-boys.  I don't want to make him into an
angel, by any means, but he seems curiously stuck between Shylock (definitely
on the outside) and the aristocrats (Bassanio, Portia, et. al, definitely the
in-crowd).  As a merchant, he has a professional relationship to Shylock, and
merchants and usurers tended to be associated in the public mind.  Don't forget
that Portia asks, "Which here is the merchant, and which the Jew?" (quoting
from memory, when she enters the trial scene).
 
You could play up the homosocial, if not homosexual, relationship of Antonio
and Bassanio by way of explaining Bassanio's liminal position. He owes Shylock,
but he wants to have a relationship of some sort with Antonio, which, in this
play, is largely represented as debt.  Hence his silence regarding Laurencio
and Jessica, I suppose.
 
Cheerio,
Sean.
 
(2)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Joe Nathan <
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Date:           Thursday, 21 Sep 1995 18:15:42 -0700
Subject:        Antonio -MV
 
I attended the Public Theater presentation of MV starring Ron Liebman last
Fall. The potential homsexuality of Antonio and Bassanio was expressed by
giving the impression that all the courtiers were homosexual.  Two others
exchanged a kiss.  Not A & B.  But the point was well made.
 
Then, the troublesome last scene was presented in a way that underscored that
Portia had won Bassanio from Antonio  - a victory for hetorosexual love over
homosexual.  This was achieved by having Bassanio give the ring to Antonio, and
then (while Bassanio is off stage), Antonio surrenders it to Portia.  The play
ended with Portia -- alone on a stage entirely blacked out except for a narrow
spotlight shining on her.  She slowly lifts the ring in victory and the entire
stage blacked out.
 
It wasn't explicit, but it worked.  Unfortunately the active (other than Ron
Liebman's Shylock) was abysmal.
 
The same group is going to do King Lear starring F. Murray Abraham in the part.
I hope they give him a better supporting cast than they did poor Liebman.
 

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