On today’s date in 1989, two anti-Semitic references were removed from the Stratford Festival’s production of William Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice.
The production, which was held on May 18 at the Ontario theatre, removed one scene depicting the forced conversion of Shylock – a Jewish man – to Christianity as well as another scene in the third act.
The so-called “price of pork” scene sees Launcelot tease Jessica, Shylock’s daughter, suggesting she’s “damned” because she’s the daughter of a Jewish man.
Jessica replies, “I shall be saved by my husband. He hath made me a Christian,” to which Launcelot responds that if more Jews are converted to Christianity, the the price of pork will increase.
These scenes – along with similar portrayals of Shylock as a greedy moneylender – have given the 16th-century play a reputation for anti-Semitism.
STRATFORD FESTIVAL COIN
In 2002, the Royal Canadian Mint commemorated the Stratford Festival on a 50-cent silver coin as part of its “Canadian Festivals” series.
Struck in .925 per cent silver, the coin has a weight of 9.3 grams, a diameter of 27.13 millimetres and a thickness of 2.08 millimetres. Its reverse depicts two actors with the Stratford Theatre in the background.