Parson's Nose to Stage Adaptation of 'The Merchant of Venice'

Published : Tuesday, April 23, 2019 | 5:18 PM

Merchant of Venice's Trial Scene rehearsals. Photo courtesy Parson's Nose Theater

Parson’s Nose Theater, the Pasadena-based theater company that performs condensed adaptations of the classics, rounds off its 2018-2019 season with an adaptation of William Shakespeare’s 16th Century controversial tale of justice versus mercy, “The Merchant of Venice,” Saturday, May 4, through Sunday June 2, with a preview night on Friday, May 3.

“The Merchant of Venice” is adapted for PNT by Producing Artistic Director Lance Davis and directed by Managing Director Gideon Y. Schein.

“In ‘The Merchant of Venice,’ the young Shakespeare again performs his magic, taking elements from Italian tales and contemporary works (Marlowe’s The Jew of Malta) and giving his own spin,” Davis said. “Shakespeare’s Christians are not merciful heroes, and his Shylock is not a greedy villain. His story, though technically a comedy, does not end comfortably.”

Although Parson’s Nose Theater is best known for its comedic adaptations, Davis explained his inspiration for including it in the season.

“I decided to adapt The Merchant of Venice when we’d just come back from a trip to Provence where I couldn’t help but be struck by the history of overwhelming Christian dominance of everyday life,” he said. “Whether Catholic or Protestant, the Western world was a Christian World. Anyone else was ‘the other’ – perhaps tolerated, but also feared – and therefore tightly controlled.”

Writing on his blog, Davis said he adapted PNT’s version of the classic to less than 90 minutes, “trying to clarify the issues, characters and ambiguities to illuminate their relevance to our own world.”

“The magical promise of global communication has become the nightmare of the Sorcerer’s Apprentice retold,” he writes. “We’re all ‘The Other’ now. We’re all Jews. We’re all Palestinians. All Christians. All Republicans. All Democrats. All Capitalists. All Socialists. Where will it lead? Must we go back to go forward? As the song says, ‘teach your children well.’”

Located in Pasadena’s historic Marston/Van Pelt chapel near City Hall, Parson’s Nose Theater presents the language, characters, plot and spirit of the world’s greatest writers – not only Shakespeare, but Molière, Goldoni, Goldsmith, Boucicault – the most revered writers of Western Literature.

Since April 2000, co-founders Lance Davis and Mary Chalon have introduced condensed, professional comedies to the delight of over 70,000 throughout Los Angeles. PNT is the only company in America devoted to this new way of experiencing the classics.

PNT productions are intelligent and fun, reaching out to adults, seniors, teens, and bright youngsters. Performances are condensed to 90 minutes or less, including an intermission featuring refreshments and the famous, home-baked “Pat Bell” cookies.

Tickets for “The Merchant of Venice” are $20 to $35 and are available online at, or by calling the Box Office at (626) 403-7667.

A “Pay What You Wish” Preview performance is available on Friday, May 3 at 8 p.m.

Parson’s Nose Theater is located at 95 North Marengo Avenue in Pasadena.







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