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Home :: Archive :: 2005 :: February ::
Performance of Merchant
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 16.0277  Friday, 11 February 2005

From:           Colin Cox <
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Date:           Thursday, 10 Feb 2005 22:27:17 -0800
Subject: 16.0266 Performance of Merchant
Comment:        Re: SHK 16.0266 Performance of Merchant

 >I am having some problems searching out where Merchant of Venice was
 >first -- and then subsequently performed. Was the play actually ever
 >given at the Globe itself? Did Elizabeth ever see it, presumably
 >performed at court?  Thanks in advance  hr greenberg md

The first 'recorded' performance is by the King's Men at Whitehall on
Shrove Sunday 1605 (Feb 10th). King James asked for a repeat performance
the following Tuesday.

The title page does show that it was performed several times by the
Chamberlain's Men ( i.e. Before 1603) and tradition is that Burbage
created the role of Shylock - the play was entered in the Stationer's
Register on July 22, 1598 and is mentioned by Meres in the Palladis
Tamia. This would then give a first date of performance between the
execution of Lopez in 1594 and 1598.

Line I, I, 27 mentions the 'St. Andrew' a ship captured at Cadiz. This
would give us a date of July 1596 (the line could have been added in a
revision)

Thomas Killigrew is known to have played Shylock during the Restoration.
The play then seems to have fallen out of favour until 1741 (except for
Granville's adaptation 'The Merchant'). It was Charles Macklin who gave
new life to Shakespeare's version. He played him until 1789, when he was 90!

Kemble played the part at Drury Lane for twenty years, with Sarah
Siddons as Portia in the 1780's and 90's.

Kean first played Shylock in 1814. Macready in 1823. Henry Irving's
renown production was in 1879. This show was later taken to New York in
1883.  Beerbohm tree played the part in 1908.
Gielgud played the part in 1938. Peter O'Toole in 1960.

Colin Cox

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