Yesterday I walked out of a production of Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice that was showing at our local cinema. It was the brilliant, “internationally acclaimed” production from the Globe Theater Company, directed by Jonathan Munby and starring Jonathan Pryce. But I walked out twenty minutes before the end because I couldn’t bear to sit through another minute after watching the utter humiliation of the Jew, Shylock, at the hands of his triumphalist Christian “opponents.” Yes, it was “just a play,” and a play I have seen many times before, but there was something frighteningly contemporary about what was playing out on the set, something which created a reaction in me that I had never experienced watching previous productions of this play.
A quick background: Shylock, a Jew in 16th century Venice, lends money to a merchant, Antonio, who in turns gives the money to his dear friend, Bassanio, so that the latter can pursue his love interest in a manner befitting a gentleman. Shylock hates Continue reading Hath not a Jew eyes?→
Most travelers (and movie goers) seem more familiar with Bruges than Ghent. For those of you who didn’t see the recent quirky movie with Colin Farrell, Brendan Gleeson and Ralph Fiennes, In Bruges, it gives you a pretty good idea of the place, although I offer this recommendation with a “violence and explicit language” warning (can’t remember if there was much explicit sex). Anyway since Bruges does not feature in the novel (at least so far), I will make this brief.
Looking for a good medieval battle site amidst 21st century suburbs is no easy matter I discovered – well, looking for anything medieval in this context. A general rule of thumb, in Europe at least, is to start by identifying the oldest church in the neighborhood, especially if the name of that church corresponds to the oldest known name of the village or district. Even if the church itself is relatively new, chances are, it sits on a medieval foundation and at one point in time was the center of life in a medieval village.