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Home :: Archive :: 2001 :: June ::
Re: Colorblindness & Nunn's Merchant
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 12.1349  Monday, 4 June 2001

From:           Karen Peterson-Kranz <
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Date:           Sunday, 3 Jun 2001 10:05:34 -0700 (PDT)
Subject: 12.1339 Re: Colorblindness & Nunn's Merchant
Comment:        Re: SHK 12.1339 Re: Colorblindness & Nunn's Merchant

I just finished watching the "television adaptation" of Trevor Nunn's NT
*Merchant of Venice", and had a couple of questions, related in part to
the "colorblind" discussion, for which someone on the list might have
answers.  I have, by the way, spent some time searching the list
archives and have not found any prior discussion of this.  If this has
been discussed and I have just failed to find it, apologies for
redundancy in advance.

I was intrigued and impressed by how the Prince of Morocco, and Portia's
reaction to him, were handled in this production.  Chu Omambala, as
Morocco, comes across as charismatic, regal, arrogant, and unabashedly
sexy.  And, at least in my perception, it seemed to me that Derbhle
Crotty's Portia was shown to be responding to his sexual magnetism,
expressing in equal parts attraction to Morocco, fear of Morocco, and
fear of her own attraction to Morocco.  I could hardly wait to see how
she delivered the notorious line at II.vii.79: "Let all of his
complexion choose me so." And they wimped out and cut the line! So
here's the first question: As this video is of the "television
adaptation," I am wondering if the line was ALSO cut in the stage
production, or whether this was done only in the TV version.  Did anyone
see it at the Cottlesloe or later at the Olivier?  Can anyone remember?

Further, in this "television adaptation," Launcelot and his father are
both played by black actors.  To me, this doesn't quite count as
"colorblind" casting.  What does, though, is Peter de Jersey as
Salerio.  In the National Video Archive citation for Nunn's Merchant, de
Jersey is not included in the cast list, and a couple of actors (whose
names I did not recognize) who were not in the TV/video version are
listed, but without identification of parts.  Here's the second
question: in the stage production, did de Jersey play Salerio?  Or, for
that matter, were there other instances of colorblind casting in this
production as performed at the NT?

Getting back to David Lindley's question about a female cast as
Sebastian, and Ed Pixleys responses about the Judith Shakespeare Company
and intersections of cross-gender performances and colorblind casting: I
am reminded of a production that I did not see, but wish that I had.  A
couple (?) of years ago, Cheek By Jowl did an *As You Like It* with
Scott Handy as Orlando and Adrian Lester as Rosalind (and this year they
are reunited as Horatio and Hamlet in Peter Brook's new production).
Did anyone see that particular AYLI?  How was it?

Cheers,
Karen Peterson

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