Shylock_and_Portia_Speeches_Assignment-Stineverhart -...

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Director’s Choices Individual Assignment Shakespeare’s plays were meant to be performed and not simply read. There is perhaps a lot more preparatory work that goes into the decisions the actors and directors make prior to a performance. This is even more true when it involves a production of a Shakespeare play. There is the business of making sure that the audience can follow the Shakespearean language and understand the plot. The work of actors and directors is intellectually rigorous. The director has the ability to shape the play by highlighting the themes that illuminate his or her own unique interpretation. One of the ongoing tensions in the play is the struggle between revenge and mercy. Shylock certainly demonstrates a character who is seeking revenge. Portia gives a speech talking about the importance of mercy. Shakespeare complicates her perspective though. She has the chance to show Shylock mercy and allow him to walk away with (at the very least) the money that he originally loaded Antonio. That does not happen though. She makes sure Shylock gets nothing. How should the director/actor handle this speech then? Should it be sincere? Should it be ironic? Your task is to spend some time with these two speeches. You are to answer the following questions for BOTH speeches. (All of this work can be done with a partner EXCEPT QUESTION 7 .) You can compare annotations, but that will be difficult to do together. 1. Contextualize the speech. (Explain what is happening at the point in the play when the speech is given.)

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