Il Mercato di Venezia - The market of Venice English presentation


The Market of Venice is a cycle of monologue plays, promoted by the Venetian Arts Association, “Venice, A Self Aware City”.The nine ten-minute monologues were developed in a writing and performing workshop, which Paolo Puppa and Maggie Rose led in Venice in June and July 2018. The people attending the workshop were Venetians or Italians from other parts of Italy, living and working in the city. We started from broad questions concerning past and present financial markets, from Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice to bitcoins, but soon narrowed our focus to the concepts of house and home for contemporary Venetians.

A house, while offering security and working as a sixth sense for its owner, can also be a source of anxiety, restlessness, even fear. Such negativity happens when market forces come into play and we are scared somebody will take our house away. The threat of eviction is always looming. Or, as tenants, we might be forced to move house, not to improve our standard of living but because we go bankrupt or for other reasons. In Venice this state of affairs is common.

While all the monologues explore this theme, stylistically they range from everyday realism to the surreal. The characters, too, are very different: a devious estate agent does his best to swindle an old lady out of her house: a precious Venetian stone is moved from its place in a glorious palace to an abject area of the city; one woman suffers sleepless nights because of rowdy tourists, who have turned her home into a living hell and also devalued it, while another is duped of her lodgings by her own brother; two monologues rewrite a classic text, Shakespeare’s Merchant of Venice. Jessica confesses mixed feelings as she leaves her father’s house and is forced to convert to Christianity, while Lorenzo vows he has made a ‘bad deal’ in marrying Jessica, who isn't the meek girl he had imagined.

Visually speaking the monologues are powerful, being located on a map of Venice, featuring iconic places, like Rialto and the Ghetto, but also little known areas. None of these areas, however, escape the impact of the unbridled speculation threatening to destroy Venice. An original soundscape and music will complete the final production.

We are currently working on the show’s distribution in clubs, associations and schools in Venice. Among these initiatives, we have forged a link with the Scottish Pavillion at the Biennale Architecture and lead artist Peter Mccaughey. Peter is hoping to insert a presentation and reading of The Market of Venice in the September events.  The monologues in Italian and Venetian are being translated into English and Scots by Joseph Farrell, Emeritus Professor, Strathclyde University, Wilma Stark, writer and translator, Sara Saraawi, playwright and Maggie Rose. The plays have also been filmed.


Venice has always been an “acrobatic” city. It had to be in order to survive, placed as it is across 118 islands separated by canals and 400 bridges in the middle of a lagoon. It has always needed to find sound reasons to justify its existence. When it lost them, it started to die. Today Venice is experiencing a two-pronged dissociation: its historic buildings have been used to create a globe theme park, while its citizens feel like foreigners in their own city.

This has happened while the centuries-old route of Modernity has been inverted, and in many parts of the world, an urgent need exists to assign a new centrality to cities and towns, where communities can play a leading role in their own development. Venice is one of these places.

In April 2017 a group of people, from different disciplines and professions, founded an Association, “Venice, a Self-Aware City”, featuring a permanent workshop of active citizenship. This cultural think-tank of the arts and sciences, whose chairman is Alberto Madricardo, aims to give Venetians a new sense of awareness and Venice a centrality, where potentially universal relationships and languages can be experimented and developed. An ongoing discussion among the members - and indeed anyone who wishes to join – has led to the production of plays, films and multimedia products. We hope these will be programmed in theatres, schools, jails and other venues all over Venice, according to the needs and objectives of the specific project.


Among the arts, the steering group of The Association “Venice, a Self Aware City” considers theatre of prime importance to help them achieve their goals. Theatre, in this instance, means a permanent hands-on workshop, bringing citizens together and engaging them in an ongoing process on a chosen theme.  Working in small groups, we have already researched and developed two plays about Venice – Veniceland and The Market of Venice (still to be completed) which have been written, performed and promoted by the attendees. The distribution of these plays is crucial, and Veniceland has been performed in a regular theatre but also in clubs and associations around the city. Taking as our model, The National Theatre of Scotland’s “Theatre without Walls”, we wish to extend our circuits to schools, jails and site specific venues in general and so reach new audiences, which don’t usually go to the theatre.


Maggie Rose teaches British Theatre Studies and Performance at Milan University. She is a member of the Scottish Society of Playwrights. Her stage and radio plays, some of them co-written, exploring issues of multiculturalism and migration, have been presented at the Edinburgh Fringe, Traverse and Gateway Theatres (Edinburgh), Oran Mor (Glasgow) and Soho Theatre (London). In 2004 her translation and co-adaptation of Renato Gabrielli’s Mobile Thriller (dir. Carrie Cracknell, Traverse Theatre and a National tour) won a Herald Angel’s Award and a Fringe First at the Edinburgh Fringe. In 2006 she dramaturged the critically acclaimed, I Confess (dir. Andy Arnold, The Arches) and in 2009 contributed the original concept and dramaturged Graham Eatough’s Shattered Head (dir. G. Eatough, Oran Mor and Traverse Theatre). In 2010 she adapted and translated Alice in Wonderland (dir. Emiliano Bronzino, Piccolo Teatro). In 2013 she wrote the prologue and dramaturged Salvatore Cabras’s Europa our First Migrant (dir. Joe Gallagher, Edinburgh Festival and Highlands Tour, supported by Creative Scotland). In recent years she has written the site-specific plays, Caliban’s Castle (Villa Burba, Rho) Shakespeare, Secret Agent (Brera Botanics, Milano), Harlequin and Shakespeare Ltd (dir. Massimo Navone,Villa Ghirlanda, Cinisello Balsamo), A Walk in Shakespeare's Garden (dir. Donatella Massimilla and performed at Brera Botanics, Grotte di Catullus, Sirmione, Lago di Garda, during The European Heritage Days, supported by the Polo Museale regionale della Lombardia, The Great Garden, New Place, Stratford-upon-Avon) for botanical gardens, parks and villas, reflecting her current interest in food and the environment in Shakespeare. She is currently working on the documentary, Shakespeare, Arlecchino and Green Passion.  

Paolo Puppa was full professor in History of the theatre and of the stage at Venice's Ca' Foscari university. A specialist in modern and comparative theatre, he has written critical works on Pirandello, Fo, Rolland, Ibsen,  Rosso di San Secondo, D’Annunzio, Morselli, Goldoni, Brook, Duse. He published  a History of the Modern Stage and a Survey of Italian playwrights.  He also co-edited  A  History of Italian Stage  for Cambridge University Press, and Encyclopedia of the Italian Literary Studies for  Routledge. His latest works include La voce solitaria, 2010, Racconti dal palcoscenico: dal Rinascimento a Gadda, 2011. He co-edited Differences on stage, for Cambridge Scholars, which received George Freedley Memorial Award for 2014. In 2014 he published  La Serenissima in scena. Da Goldoni a Paolini. Among his plays, La collina di Euridice (which won the Pirandellian prize in 1998), published in an English translation as Eurydice's Hill with Parole al buio, Words in the Dark, The  Minotaur, a monologue (published in “Plays International”, December 1999)  which won the Città di Castello di Vibio Award (1998), Zio mio that won the Critic’s prize in Riccioni (1999). Finally in 2006, Parole di Giuda (Juda’s words) won the Theatre Critic’s prize, while in 2008  Tim and Tom was awarded the Campiglia Marittima prize. In 2012 he published Cronache venete and Le commedie del professore, two new collections of plays and  in 2015 the novel Ca’ Foscari dei dolori. His last volume of plays, the recent .Altre scene. Copioni del terzo millennio, 2018.