On Jan. 8 and 9, 2004, Armstrong will perform his one-man show, which played a sold-out run at the Edinburgh Festival, a season at the Hampstead Theatre in London and performances at the Swan Theatre in Stratford-upon-Avon. Directed by Frank Barrie, Shylock is narrated by Tubal, a minor character in Shakespeare's The Merchant of Venice, who is also a friend of Shylock's. According to production notes, Shylock "explores with both humor and sadness [The Merchant of Venice], its performance history, and the legacy of racial and religious intolerance." The idea for the play began when Armstrong was appearing as Shylock in a production of Shakespeare's play at the Salisbury Playhouse. In the published version of Shylock, Armstrong writes, "Nobody much talks to Shylock, though they talk plenty at him or about him. Nobody seemed to be talking to me much in the coffee breaks, either. . . I began to feel a bit of the isolation that that proverbial pork chop felt at the Jewish wedding — only in reverse. And after a bit I wondered what they were saying about me behind my back."
Gareth Armstrong has appeared in the West End in productions of A Murder Is Announced, Dirty Linen and East Virtue. He was a member of the Royal Shakespeare Company and has toured in productions in more than 30 countries.
Shylock will be presented on Jan. 8 at 6 PM and again on Jan. 9 at 4 PM in the New York Public Library's Bruno Walter Auditorium. There is no charge for the play, and seats are available on a first-come, first served basis. For more information, call (212) 642-0142. The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts Dorothy and Lewis B. Cullman Center is located in Manhattan at 40 Lincoln Center Plaza.