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In these unprecedented times, amidst a crisis, there is one thing that unites us. We are all human.

Butterfly Theatre Company has brought together a community of 150 people from all over the world to create a unique video version of Shylock’s famous monologue from Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice, to be released across its social media channels to mark Shakespeare’s Birthday on Thursday 23 April, which is also the day that the first Coronavirus human vaccine trials are due to start in the UK.

I am a Jew. Hath

not a Jew eyes? Hath not a Jew hands, organs,

dimensions, senses, affections, passions? Fed with

the same food, hurt with the same weapons, subject

to the same diseases, healed by the same means,

warmed and cooled by the same winter and summer, as

any human is? If you prick us, do we not bleed?

If you tickle us, do we not laugh? If you poison

us, do we not die?

Butterfly Theatre Company specialises in site-specific, immersive Shakespeare in the UK, Europe and beyond with the aim to make Shakespeare that authentically connects and is relevant and accessible. Recent projects include an immersive production of A Midsummer Nights Dream in an underground cave complex, Kents Cavern in Torquay, Romeo and Juliet amidst the ruins and gardens at Glastonbury Abbey, and Secrets Unlocked, an immersive telling of Jersey’s history through Shakespeare at 16 New Street, a Georgian Town House in Jersey Town centre.

Aileen Gonsalves, Butterfly Theatre Artistic Director and Company Founder said,

“I went to Terezin concentration camp in Prague. I went with ISTA International School Theatre Association with young people from around the world. To devise and respond and collaborate and make work. We heard from a 92-year-old survivor Doris Grozdanovičová – as we sat in the camp with her it was truly profound, we could not get over how humans had done this to each other.

We explored how easy it is to dehumanise each other. The homeless person who we stop looking in the eye because were embarrassed…cant we just connect and say something- anything? Isn’t not connecting potentially the start that ends in the horrors that happened? Whatever people are they are HUMAN. We explored the Shylock speech and an idea started to grow in me.

I am so happy to do this project NOW as instead of highlighting our great divisions, its a time when we must be united, we cant help but feel our universal suffering, discoveries, revelations, healing and our vulnerability becomes clear as we are all subject to the same diseases’. And today the scientists are working from round the world together. Testing on humans to ensure we are healed by the same means

Butterfly believe that truthful acting is at the forefront of what connects the actors to the audience and so during this time of social isolation, we ask ourselves, what connects us now? Not only are we interacting online with friends, family, and colleagues possibly more than we did before this crisis, but also, ironically, this global suffering has created a global unity. We are all experiencing the same situation, we are all affected, we are all vulnerable. No other Shakespeare speech could be truer to this, at this time, than Shylock’s “I am a Jew” speech. We have created a compilation video that combines individual and unique readings of this famous speech which have been altered depending on how the reader uniquely identifies as a human being.

This video is Butterfly’s response to the unique world we now find ourselves in.”

Aileen Gonsalves trained as an actor at the Central School of Speech and Drama and works professionally in film, theatre, television, and radio. She has worked extensively at the RSC across her career.  Assistant Director to Tim Supple on Midnights Children, Greg Doran on All’s Well That Ends Well and also with Greg she was the associate director on the groundbreaking motion capture production of The Tempest in 2017. She also directed The First Encounters The Tempest for The Swan and UK tour. She has been the RSC International and National Youth Ensemble director since 2008, as well as an RSC education associate practitioner.

Aileen teaches her new method of acting The Gonsalves Method at various drama institutions nationally and internationally. She was Head of the MA in Acting at ArtsEd Drama school 2011-2015,  Head of Acting at Drama Studio London 2018-19, Currently teaching actors and directors at RADA and UWL.

She directs the majority of Butterfly productions using The Gonsalves Method and is writing a book due to be published by Bloomsbury at the end of 2020 ‘Shakespeare and Meisner’ for the New Arden Shakespeare Performance Series.

For more info: www.gonsalvesmethod.com