All the Galaxy's a Stage


Phillip DePoy, director and composerin-residence at the Theatrical Outfit, in Atlanta, cannot say the name of his company’s next show without cracking up. It’s The Merchant of Venus, adapted from youknow-what, by you-know-who. “But it’s more than just a funny name!” he hastens to “It is Shakespeare! We didn’t rewrite!” Shakespeare’s Merchant has numerous songs. This one has several more. DePoy, the merry perpetrator also of a musical of Hamlet, explains: “Songs help point up the story and create the mood. They’re adapted from dialogue.”Okay, but why Venus? “Watching PBS one day. I heard someone say that for Shakespeare, Renaissance Italy was like outer space is for us: a place where anything can happen, so you can write your own rules. Venus, appropriately named for the goddess of love, is a place for characters motivated by peace, love, and understanding. Shylock and Jessica are from Earth (they’ll wear space suits), and like many earth people, they’re motivated by greed and revenge. Venusians don’t know or care about religion—so anti-Semitism isn’t an issue.” Hm. How about no rewriting? “Well, our Shylock says, I am a human. Hath not a human eyes? Hath he not hands, organs, dimensions, senses, affections, passions?

... If you prick us, do we not bleed?”’ And the musical style? “Radical spiritual eclecticism! But lyrical, and full of earth music. The Venusians gel our radio waves, and they really dig our music.”