"I approached the RSC (Royal Shakespeare Company) in February this year with a bold new vision for Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice. The idea for this new vision came to me when I was living in Shanghai a few years ago. I read a copy of the play one day and I was immediately struck by the remarkable parallels in the relationships between the Jews and Gentiles in the play, and China and the West today.
In the play, both the Jews and Chinese are viewed with suspicion and distrust. China is now an extremely wealthy and powerful nation, but it is also culturally misunderstood and vilified for its repressive political policies. As a result, the bonds between China and the West are based almost entirely on mutual financial dependence.
There are many creative ideas behind this new vision, but the starting point is relocation to 1890s Shanghai - during the height of the opium trade between Britain and China. The RSC felt that this vision was very interesting and kindly decided to support it through their Studio Programme.
We have just finished a two week workshop that lasted from 20-30 May. It culminated in a showing of selected scenes, which were chosen to convey the concept and how the characters come to life within that world. The RSC has been wonderful to work with and I am extremely grateful for their amazing support.
Being at Goldsmiths prepared me for this project in several ways; by exposing me to world-class teachers, expanding and deepening my understanding of theatre and performance, and by providing a rich environment that supports creativity. I was also a recipient of the Special Projects Fund for Students which was very helpful in enabling me to bring this project about. Living in London and being surrounded by a passionate group of individuals from all over the world also made a huge difference to me."