The Acting class that I teach continues to be a lot of fun as well as challenging. I'm coaching monologues now. Next week, I assign scenes. It's a challenge to scale actor training down from graduate level work to a Freshman level introductory class.
This morning, we're in a workshop with David Rainey, an actor in The Alley Theatre Company. David was trained at Juilliard. He's working Shakespeare with us (in January, we will work contemporary monologues with James Black.)
On October 30th, we audition for Texas Shakes (Virginia Shakes sees us on Dec. 6th.) I'm doing Shylock and Petruchio, after all. Malvolio turned out to be too tricky for an audition, because he's too easy to turn the wrong direction; to not show what the director needs to see. Shylock/Petruchio are a good contrasting pair, though I don't believe I'll use Shylock much in the future.* I find I can't shrug off the sense that any portrayal of him is antisemitic, especially now that I've heard Stephen Greenblatt devout an hour-long lecture to The Merchant of Venice.
About the Greenblatt lecture: it was fascinating to hear him use the idea of a 'limit' to Shylock's hate as a way of getting at thinking about the limitless hatred of suicide bombers in the world today. Greenblatt did not make over-determined parallels between the fears stirred in the west today by 'radical Islam' and fears stirred in medieval-Elizabethan England by the 'alienness' of Jews among them (if there were any Jews among them, since they'd been banished from England in 1200-something). The language in Merchant used to describe the 'alien' Jews is not much different than you hear current-day nativists use to describe 'alien' Muslims. Greenblatt showed that in Shakespeare's work, Shylock is the only villain for whom the audience's hatred translates into hatred of the class of people of whom the villain is a member--that is, we might hate Richard III because he's a hunchback, but we don't hate hunchbacks because Richard III is one, whereas we do hate Jews because Shylock is one. But, whereas Richard III or Iago pursued their hatred of others so far as to disregard their own possibility of survival, Shylock does not. He agrees to convert to Christianity in order not to be put to death, unlike contemporary 'radical Muslims,' who do sacrifice themselves for their hatred (Greenblatt noted that in WWII Europe Jews did not bomb cafes and buses, and they certainly did not blow themselves up.) Greenblatt seems to be using Shakespeare's exploration of the limits/lack of limits to hatred as a way to ask about the lack of limits to hatred among suicide bombers today.