Auditions: The Merchant of Venice

The Merchant of Venice
Written by William Shakespeare 
Directed and adapted by Jonathan C. Dietrich
Auditions: January 15, 16, 17 7PM - 10PM at 44 Gaukel St. in downtown Kitchener. 
Shows: April 12, 13, 14; 19, 20, 21; 26, 27, 28 Performances will be at 8pm each evening.
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A young Venetian, Bassanio, needs a loan of three thousand ducats so that he can woo Portia, a wealthy Venetian heiress. He approaches his friend Antonio, a merchant. Antonio is short of money because all of his wealth is invested in his fleet, which is currently at sea. He goes to a Jewish moneylender, Shylock, who hates Antonio because of Antonio’s antisemitic behaviour towards him. We are proud to feature an original score composed by local musician Tom Nagy in this adaptation.

This production will employ masks, and will feature art deco and art nouveau styling. Mask experience is not required to participate. This production is being presented as a tragedy, instead of the usual comedy. 

For more information about the director’s vision, visit

The Merchant of Venice will have a cast of at least 13, including at least 3 women and 3 men. All other roles will be cast without regard for gender. Actors must be at least 16 to auditions.

Some of the key roles include:

Shylock: A Jewish moneylender in Venice. Angered by his mistreatment at the hands of Venice’s Christians, particularly the merchant Antonio, Shylock schemes to get revenge by ruthlessly demanding a pound of Antonio’s flesh as penalty for Antonio’s defaulting on a loan. The Christian characters in the play regard Shylock as an inhuman monster, frequently mocking him for being obsessed with money. 

Portia: A wealthy heiress from Belmont. Portia’s beauty is matched only by her intelligence. Bound by a clause in her father’s will that forces her to marry whichever suitor chooses correctly among three caskets, Portia nonetheless longs to marry her true love, Bassanio. Far and away the cleverest of the play’s characters, Portia disguises herself as a young male law clerk in an attempt to save Antonio from Shylock’s knife.

Antonio: The merchant whose love for his friend Bassanio prompts him to sign Shylock’s contract and almost lose his life. Antonio is something of a mercurial figure, often inexplicably melancholy and, as Shylock points out, possessed of an incorrigible dislike of Jews. Nonetheless, Antonio is beloved of his friends and proves merciful to Shylock, albeit with conditions.

Bassanio: A gentleman of Venice and a kinsman and dear friend to Antonio. Bassanio’s love for the wealthy Portia leads him to borrow money from Shylock with Antonio as his guarantor. An ineffectual businessman, Bassanio nonetheless proves himself a worthy suitor, correctly identifying the casket that contains Portia’s portrait.

Gratiano: A friend of Bassanio’s who accompanies him to Belmont. A coarse and garrulous young man, Gratiano is Shylock’s most vocal and insulting critic during the trial. 

Jessica: Although she is Shylock’s daughter, Jessica hates life in her father’s house and elopes with the young Christian gentleman Lorenzo. Launcelot jokingly calls into question what will happen to her soul, wondering if her marriage to a Christian can overcome the fact that she was born a Jew. We may wonder if her sale of a ring given to her father by her mother isn’t excessively callous.

Lorenzo: A friend of Bassanio and Antonio. Lorenzo is in love with Shylock’s daughter, Jessica. He schemes to help Jessica escape from her father’s house and eventually elopes with her to Belmont.

Actors must be available for all performances (April 12, 13, 14; 19, 20, 21; 26, 27, 28), as well as tech weekend and the full dress rehearsals (April 7-8 during the day, April 9-10 in the evenings). Other mandatory dates include the first read-through and the poster run (to be scheduled).

We recommend that you prepare a monologue from a Shakespeare production of your choice (comedic or dramatic is great but please avoid The Merchant of Venice!). Monologues will be available for those who do not wish to prepare something. If you bring a prepared monologue that is not from a Shakespearian show, you may be asked to do a cold reading from the script to evaluate your comfort with the language.

You must be 16 years of age or older to audition. Please visit to sign up for a time slot to audition and to fill out the audition form in advance. Walk-ins are welcome, but may have to wait until an available slot. 

Auditions will be held at our rehearsal space at 44 Gaukel St. in downtown Kitchener, not at the KWLT theatre building in Waterloo. 

The exact rehearsal schedule will depend on actor availability; we anticipate three rehearsals a week, two on weeknights and one on a weekend day.



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Event Date(s): 

Monday, January 15, 2018 - 19:00
Tuesday, January 16, 2018 - 19:00
Wednesday, January 17, 2018 - 19:00