Steven Schwall as Antonio

Hello, this is Steven Schwall. I am playing Antonio, the merchant, in the upcoming Pigeon Creek Shakespeare production of The Merchant of Venice. This is my second production with Pigeon Creek, and the members of the company are starting to treat me like a “veteran”.

This is another ensemble-directed piece, but the personnel are different from those in Henry V. Every ensemble has its own dynamic, but the one thing I am beginning to notice is the overall principles remain the same. There really is a consistency to this company’s approach, and even though the personnel change, the principles remain the same.

I really can’t comment upon the rehearsal process, as I have been involved in wrapping up another production that is keeping me from rehearsals, but the interesting thing I have found about this work is that the title character (which is me) is not as important as one might think. Sure he is pivotal to the plot, but more as a catalyst around which things move than a protagonist or antagonist. Antonio is an object, not an action. This means that I must, in my own work, provide my fellow actors with substance with which to work. This will be a far greater challenge than I originally thought, but I am glad to be surrounded by such a supportive group.

The other thing about this work is that it is another of those mixed genre plays of Shakespeare’s (commonly called “problem plays”). It has some of the trappings of comedy – disguises, mistaken identities, and a happy ending (for most). But at the same time, it is moralistic like a tragedy, dealing with anti-semitism, greed, and justice.

I would encourage you all to come out and see this production. If it turns out like previous Pigeon Creek productions, I am sure you will be in for an evening of thought-provoking, entertaining theatre.