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The Picino Production's Portrayal of Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice

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The Picino Production with Al Picino, Jeremy Iroris and Joseth Fiennes (2004) of Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice is one that has remarkable visual and performative choices that alter the way in which certain characters may be portrayed on paper. In this performance, Portia is racist as she insults the Prince of Morocco because he is a man of color. Portia’s performance is presented in a jovial manner even though the implications of her actions are of a serious matter.
Portia chuckles with Nerissa in the midst of revealing her opinions about her suitors. This becomes an inside joke for the two women, especially Portia because the men think she is vested in wanting a suitor through the will of her father. This conversation takes place
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His interior is displayed on the outside in the presence of Portia by his white robe. The robe symbolizes his innocence and humanizes the Prince past the outer layer that Portia sees. The interpretation of the directors in this scene reveals the reality of Portia’s character. Staging their conversation in a public space juxtaposes Portia’s feelings in public as opposed to her feelings in private with Nerissa. In presenting the private conversation as jovial, Portia’s disinterest and uncaringness for her possible suitors is evident. Likewise, the choice of dressing the Prince in white in the presence of Portia shows the production’s attempt to bring out the Prince’s inside and in a sense making him appear “white” for Portia to change her mind about him. By doing this, the production allows the audience to understand the racism in Portia as she still makes hint to his “fairness” or lack thereof.
The production does a great job in contrasting Portia’s private life and her public life which shows Portia’s racism. In contrasting the public and private sphere, the production strengthens the contrast between the Portia and The Prince’s inner and outer identities and the way in which these identifications are affected. In the choice of clothing and expression in the scenes mentioned above Portia's racist and selfish nature is in direct contrast to the Prince's humility and earnestness to please
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