Globe Theatre adds 'woke' alert to Merchant of Venice production

Globe Theatre adds ‘woke’ alert to new production of the Merchant of Venice: Shakespeare fans warned 16th century play about Jewish moneylender has scenes of ‘anti-Semitism and bullying’

  • The Globe Theatre has added a warning to new Merchant of Venice production 
  • The warning, which appears online, warns of anti-Semitism and bullying in play 
  • It comes after the theatre put a similar trigger warning on Romeo and Juliet 

The Globe Theatre has added a ‘woke’ alert to its new production of the Merchant of Venice, warning Shakespeare fans about scenes of ‘anti-Semitism and bullying’. 

Those using the London theatre’s website to book tickets are warned the production ‘contains antisemitism, colourism, and racism, bullying, strong language, and scenes of a sexual nature’.

In the play, Antonio, an anti-Semitic merchant, takes a loan from the Jewish moneylender Shylock, using a pound of flesh as collateral, to help his friend court Portia.

Antonio can’t repay the loan, and Shylock demands a pound of his flesh as payment.

Later, Portia, now the wife of Antonio’s friend, dresses as a lawyer and saves Antonio. In the process, Shylock is ordered to forfeit his wealth and is forced to convert to Christianity.  

Tickets for the play cost between £5 and £59 and it will be performed by candlelight in the Sam Wanamaker Playhouse between February 22 and April 9. 

Those using the Globe theatre’s website to book tickets for the Merchant of Venice (pictured is a previous production) are warned the production ‘contains antisemitism, colourism, and racism, bullying, strong language, and scenes of a sexual nature’

It isn’t the first time the theatre has introduced warnings for sensitive theatre-goers. Last year it was criticised by several names in the theatre industry after it included trigger warnings about ‘upsetting’ themes in Romeo and Juliet

Tickets for the play at the Globe (pictured)  cost between £5 and £59 and it will be performed by candlelight in the Sam Wanamaker Playhouse between February 22 and April 9

A blurb on the Globe’s website reads: ‘Director Abigail Graham (MUM, Soho) and the company reclaim Shakespeare’s disturbing tale.

‘Looking at the story in a contemporary context, the production asks us to confront and question our own prejudices in the here and now.’

It isn’t the first time the theatre has introduced warnings for sensitive theatre-goers.

Last year it was criticised by several names in the theatre industry after it included trigger warnings about ‘upsetting’ themes in Romeo and Juliet.

As part of the drive to protect those seeing the stage play, the theatre also gave out the number for Samaritans after the show.   

On its website it said: ‘This production contains depictions of suicide, moments of violence and references to drug use.

‘It contains gunshot sound effects and the use of stage blood.

‘If you have been affected by any of the issues raised in this production of Romeo and Juliet please find details below of organisations offering advice and support.’

However, its measures were branded ‘barmy’ and ‘wokeness gone mad’, with Tory MP Pauline Latham blasting: ‘This is absolutely ridiculous.

Jonathan Pryce as Shylock in a 2015 production of the Merchant of Venice at the Globe in London

Peter O’Toole appearing as Shylock in a 1960s production of the Merchant of Venice

Antony Sher as Shylock in The Merchant of Venice performed by The Royal Shakespeare Company, London in 1987

Dustin Hoffman starring as the Jewish moneylender at the Phoenix theatre in London, 1989

‘How have we come to this after so many years of Shakespeare?’

And actor Christopher Biggins added: ‘Do we have to have signs for everything under the sun? It’s a joke.

‘What they are trying to do is insulting to the mentality of theatre-goers.’

The Globe – which is on the site of the Bard’s original playhouse – now also alerts the audience before they go to see the Merchant of Venice – written by the playwright between 1596 and 1599. 

The theatre was contacted about the warnings for the Merchant of Venice but did not respond.

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