OTD: Stratford Festival edits The Merchant of Venice

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 May 18, 1989 production removed one scene depicting the forced conversion of Shylock—a Jewish man—to Christianity, as well as another scene in the third act. This so-called “price of pork” scene saw 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 others that portray Shylock as a greedy moneylender—have given the 16th-century play a reputation for anti-Semitism.


In 2002, the Royal Canadian Mint commemorated the Stratford Festival on a 50-cent silver coin as part of its Canadian Festivals series. Struck out of .925 per cent silver, the coin has a weight of 9.3 grams, a diameter of 27.13 mm and a thickness of 2.08 mm. The coin’s reverse depicts two actors with the Stratford Theatre in the background.

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