WILL POWER: Bard gets a hand from Shakespeare scholar

They’ll use the King’s English but in accents American.


Dr. Gail Kern Paster, former director of the Folger Shakespeare Library and English professor at George Washington University, smiles while watching a dress rehearsal of Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice at the Norris Community Center Thursday, March 16, 2017 in Naples.

If you’re an English literature major, the plays of William Shakespeare are an ever-blooming garden of language — colorful with puns, allusions and word plays that show more of themselves every time you see his scripts.

And if you’re not?

In Naples, fortunately, you have Gail Kern Paster and Gulfshore Playhouse on your side, at least for the upcoming Playhouse production of “The Merchant of Venice.” Paster is Shakespeare consultant for the play, which opens next week, and her credentials are beyond impeccable. For nine years she served as director of the world’s largest library dedicated to the playwright/poet, the Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington, D.C. She’s written at least three books on the Bard’s works; and has served as president of the Shakespeare Association of America.

Gulfshore Playhouse director Kristen Coury and her cast are doing their part as well to make the play accessible. The production is not taxing its Tudor language further by using a modern British accent. Finally, besides shearing it of a few minor characters to get the cast to eight, Coury has done what she calls a few “surgical trims.” To borrow from the Bard, the play’s the thing.

“There were a lot of references to ancient things we felt people wouldn’t get, and (we) focused on the story telling,” she said.

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