What’s happening at the Stafford Festival Shakespeare this summer – including title, director and ticket info

Find out more about The Merchant of Venice at The Stafford Festival Shakespeare this summer- including ticket info and who’s going to be directing the play

Fans of literature will be pleased to know that the extremely popular Stafford Festival Shakespeare returns this summer. It will take place at the stunning outdoor venue of Stafford Castle between Thursday June 27 and Saturday July 13 July.

And this year’s production of The Merchant of Venice is set to be a year of firsts. 

It will be the first time the play has ever been performed at Stafford in the whole 29 years of the festival.

And organisers have hinted at a brand new seat configuration making festival goers closer to the stage. Rather than splitting the audience across three stands, the auditorium has been rearranged to unify the audience in one seating area. 

Production Manager Richard Goodman said: “This production is going to be enticing. We have such a treat in store for our audience this year! It’s a play which has everything. On top of that it has one of Shakespeare’s most iconic characters in Shylock.

“It is going to be a great opportunity to see this play performed for the first time at Stafford Castle and in a vibrant and unique telling of the story.”

Read more: Here’s last year’s rave review of 2018’s Macbeth at Stafford Festival Shakespeare

Who will be directing?

The company has also announced Oliver O’Shea as the director. Oliver is a freelance theatre director based in Yorkshire. 

Oliver said: “I am delighted to be joining the Stafford Shakespeare Festival team this year as the Director of The Merchant of Venice. Performed in the grounds of the atmospheric Stafford Castle, this annual event is a wonderful opportunity to experience Shakespeare in the open-air and the perfect way to begin enjoying the summer.

“Preparation is already well under way, and I have been working closely with Stafford’s experienced team to bring this epic production to life.

Read more: Our What’s On guide to the 2019 events in Staffordshire and Shropshire 

What’s the story?

The Merchant of Venice by William Shakespeare

‘All that glisters is not gold’

The privileged heiress Portia is seeking a husband by unconventional means: a suitor merely has to solve a little puzzle to win her hand in marriage. Spendthrift Bassanio longs to be considered by Portia, but how can he impress her, when he is so reckless with the money he borrows? If his close friend Antonio can lend him no more money, who else might be willing to lend a sum on his behalf? And at what cost…?

In this thrilling new production, Shakespeare’s controversial masterpiece is transported to 1950s New York, a city where communities are divided by wealth and religion. Featuring the iconic figure of Shylock, one of Shakespeare’s most complex characters, The Merchant of Venice is a compelling story of money, love, and prejudice. 

Keep checking back for cast announcements and more news soon!

Tickets are available now via the Stafford Gatehouse Theatre Box Office. Tickets can be booked by calling the Box Office on 01785 619080 or by visiting www.staffordgatehousetheatre.co.uk.

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