We’re very excited to publish an adaptation of The Merchant of Venice by Aileen Gonsalves, the RSC director. Aileen’s adaptation sticks closely to the script and provides a ‘route map’ of the plot of The Merchant of Venice. For an overview of the cuts made, see the introduction to this edition (there’s a link to the Introduction on the Index Page). It plays in an hour. Aileen has used this adaptation for pub-lunch productions of Shakespeare plays.
We (an RSC director; an ex-Shakespeare school-teacher; a community theatre Shakespeare director; an ex-IT professional and Shakespeare aficionado) think that this One Hour edition, plus our Modern First Folio, provides a rich environment for exploring Shakespeare plays in a group through play-reading. It will also make Shakespeare’s plays more accessible for play in a group (school pupils; drama students; community theatre groups; U3A; etc).
The One Hour Version can be used to get an overview of the plot, and the Modern First Folio Edition to explore the richness of particularly interesting scenes; and excluded sub-plots. Ideally, the group will be encouraged to go on to a play-reading of the Modern First Folio edition.
It can also be used for 1-hour productions of the play when a full 3-hour production is out of reach.
This adaptation is one of a series Aileen has made, and we’ve agreed to publish more of them over the summer months and plan to have half-a-dozen published for the start of the autumn term, including A Midsummer Night’s Dream; Hamlet; Romeo and Juliet; Macbeth; The Merchant of Venice; Twelfth Night. They will be published in our standard format so you can use cast lists; cue scripts; and Highlit Text scripts. We also plan to generate more One Hour adaptations of our own, to complement our Modern First Folio plays.
We have also simplified the interface to the One Hour plays to make things easier to use:
- The side bar has been removed from script pages so there is less advertising and more space for the script.
- The index has been simplified so that only items essential for play-reading are shown.
- The way the plays can be read on smartphones has been simplified and clarified.
Our plays can be read on smartphones, tablets, and laptops. The interface has been designed to work well on smartphones, which have the smallest screen size, but also work well on tablets (that’s what we mostly use in Edinburgh) and laptops. Apple technology (iPhones, iPads, and Macbooks) works particularly well for reading the plays, though Android and Windows 10 platforms can also be effective.
To suit the small screen size of a smartphone, the play-reading software uses three pages:
- A script page, which shows the script of the play, and allows you to move from scene to scene, by pressing on the A?S? buttons before or after the displayed script.
- An index page, which shows links to different pages you can access to learn more about the play or change how the script is displayed.
- The most important of the pages are the cast list pages which allow the different characters in the play to be given to different players, and allow the script to be displayed in cue script format (only the player’s lines are displayed, with a 3-word cue which prompts the player to speak their lines) or in Highlight text format (where the whole script of the play is shown, with a player’s lines “highlit” in a colour specific to the character).
You can move between these three different pages by:
- using the Button at the top (and bottom) of the current page to go to the page mentioned in the button (usually the script page or the index page)
- using links on a cast list page to go to the script page for a particular player in a particular format (cue script or highlit text)
- using the back button to go back to the page you’ve just come from.
This may seem a bit intimidating at first, but one quickly gets used to moving about the play using these buttons. The first thing you should do when exploring a page is to use the buttons and the links to explore the script of the play (by using the A?S? buttons) and the different cast lists etc in the index.
We think that this One Hour Edition, and the Modern First Folio Edition of The Merchant of Venice offer a step-function improvement in online resources to explore the play through play-reading. But we know it’s not perfect. The main way it can be improved is by you, its users, telling us what’s wrong with it.
You can do that by leaving a comment on this post (or any related post). Just scroll down to the end of this page, after the adverts and leave a reply / comment in the box provided telling us how you think it could be improved.
And now it’s time to start exploring. You can access the script of the play at:
or you can go to the index page for the play at:
You’ll find other adaptations of Shakespeare plays we’ve published on our Adaptations Page.
If you are using, or thinking of using, Players-Shakespeare.com’s edition of Shakespeare’s plays for production rehearsals or play-reading, why don’t you ask to become a member of our Support for Playreading & Productions Closed FB group?
If you want to know how our Shakespeare edition is developing, ‘like’ our Facebook page, and you’ll get more detailed updates on Facebook on what’s happening.