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Shakespeare and the Law: Scenes and a panel on legal issues in The Merchant of Venice, September 28, 2012

Actors from Spirit of Shakespeare, a University of Texas student organization; the University of Texas at Austin Department of Theatre and Dance, under the direction of Fran Dorn; and Hidden Room, an Austin-based original practices company under the direction of Beth Burns, will perform versions of the courtroom scene from The Merchant of Venice as part of a panel discussion titled “Is that the Law?: Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice,” on Friday, September 28, 2012, in the Eidman Courtroom at the University of Texas School of Law from 6:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m.

The event, free and open to the public, is sponsored by the Department of English at the University of Texas at Austin and the University of Texas School of Law.

A reception will be held at 6:30 p.m. in the Jamail Pavilion adjacent to the Eidman Courtroom in the Law School’s John B. Connally Center. (See Maps and Directions.) The panel, which includes the performance, starts at 7:00 p.m.

This year, four panelists will discuss legal and related issues central to The Merchant of Venice. They are:

  • Alan Friedman, professor of English, coordinator of Actors from the London Stage, and faculty advisor for Spirit of Shakespeare at the University of Texas at Austin
  • Angela Littwin, Assistant Professor at the University of Texas School of Law
  • James Loehlin, director of Shakespeare at Winedale and professor of English at the University of Texas at Austin
  • James Shapiro, Larry Miller Professor of English, Columbia University

Spirit of Shakespeare (SOS) is a group of University of Texas students involved in promoting Shakespeare programs on campus and in the community. For several years now, the SOS players have performed scenes from the annual Actors from the London Stage (AFTLS) play and have helped to augment and elucidate the Shakespeare and the Law panel discussions.

Shakespeare and the Law grew out of the AFTLS residency, a familiar and regular part of the University’s Shakespeare offerings since 1999, and a conference on “The Law and Other Performing Arts” held at the Law School in 2002. AFTLS, a London-based theatrical touring company, brings its unique educational and theatrical program, which features a troupe of five classically trained actors from major English theaters, to this campus and city for week-long residencies every year.

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One Response to “Shakespeare and the Law: Scenes and a panel on legal issues in The Merchant of Venice, September 28, 2012”

  1. William Ray Says:

    September 10th, 2012 at 8:41 pm

    I would appreciate it if one of your law students familiar with ‘The Merchant of Venice’ would ask Professor James Shapiro this question, since he has written a book pooh-poohing Edward de Vere, 17th Earl of Oxford, as the writer of the works of Shakespeare. de Vere was a lawyer, traveled to Italy, and lived in Venice several months in 1575-6, the exact time period and locale of the play. (Contact me at for further detail.) Question:
    Would Professor Shapiro explain to us how William Shakspere of Stratford could have reproduced a Venetian single-bond trial, that so precisely reflects this obscure Italian legal procedure in every detail, if he, as the supposed author, never went to Italy or spoke Italian–given that the procedure did not exist in Tudor England, which did not follow Roman law? If he squirms out of the question or subject, you have to say, Answer the question. He cuts off troublesome questions or ignores them with a quip.

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