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The Merchant of Venice

Directed by Andy Cork

3rd - 8th July 2023

William Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice is Shakespeare Live’s 2023 production to be performed at Cleeve House. 

Originally set in the 16th Century Italian City-State of Venice  - a major trading centre at the time. The Commercial Revolution produced great wealth and fuelled the Renaissance.  Venice also saw the establishment of the Jewish Ghetto within the city.   The play examines the religious tensions caused by the demands of finance and trade where Christians persecuted Jews whilst exploiting their role as money lenders.


The play, somewhat surprisingly described as a comedy, is one of love and betrayal; where hatred leads to prejudicial actions and destruction.

Our version of the play will be set in the 21st Century.  Even after all this time, the themes relevant in the original setting have remained as relevant today.  The production will emphasise the commercial nature of the setting.  


The setting of the production will use the Venetian piazza as the centrepiece of the action of the play reflecting the role that the piazza plays in all aspects of Italian society: social, political, religious and commercial.


The main auditions will take place on the afternoon of 3rd December at The Pound Arts Centre, Corsham from 10:30am - 11:30am and 2.30pm - 6pm. Other auditions can be arranged in the evenings or at weekends depending on availability.  Venues to be arranged.

if you are interested in auditioning and want to book an audition slot, or wanted more information, please contact our director Andy at 

The roles

The modern day setting will allow for a wider gender casting reflecting the modern role of women in commerce. As such, there is some flexibility in casting some of the roles. The parts of servants/messengers can/will be merged into fewer characters creating larger parts.

All characters will form part of the piazza/market place.


M/F. Antonio is the eponymous merchant. 


M. Antonio’s close friend.  Suitor to Portia.


M. Friend to Antonio and Bassanio.  In love with Nerissa.


M. Friend of Antonio and Bassanio.  In love with Jessica.


F. A rich heiress.


F. Portia’s waiting maid.  In love with Gratanio.


F. Moneylender.  Mother to Jessica.


F. Shylock’s daughter.  Later Lorenzo’s wife.


M/F. Friend of Shylock

Launcelot Gobbo

M/F. Shylock’s servant.  Later Bassanio’s servant.

Old Gobbo

M/F. Blind parent to Launcelot

Duke of Venice

M/F. Court president.

Prince of Morocco

M. Suitor to Portia.

Prince of Aragon

M. Suitor to Portia


M/F. Friend of Antonio and Bassanio


M/F. Friend of Antonio and Bassanio


M/F. Messenger from Venice


M/F. Servant to Portia

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