Mercy Panel & Performance: An Exploration of Justice and the Law VS Compassion @ Sydney Opera House

Mercy Panel & Performance: An Exploration of Justice and the Law VS Compassion, inspired by Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice

Date: 4 September, 2016
Time: 5:30pm
Cost: Tickets from $39-$49:
Venue: Sydney Opera House (Venue 1)

Speakers: Deng Adut, A.C. Grayling, Germaine Greer & Michael Kirby
Cast: John Bell (Duke), Brian Lipson (Shylock), Andrea Demetriades (Portia), James Evans (Antonio) & Damien Strouthos (Bassanio)
Director: Peter Evans

“The quality of mercy is not strained: It droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven. Upon the place beneath. It is twice blessed: It blessed him that gives, and him that takes.” – Portia, The Merchant of Venice

Have we lost the quality of mercy? If we aim only for what is fair, or for justice, do we narrow the scope for something better? Is there still room for mercy in a secular state?

Sydney Opera House and Bell Shakespeare collaborate to bring the courtroom session from The Merchant of Venice to life and focus on contemporary dilemmas of mercy, justice and the law.

South Sudanese child soldier-turned-Blacktown lawyer, Deng Adut moved hearts with his 2016 Australia Day address. But 33-year-old Adut first won national attention late last year, when a short video about his life went viral. The clip, which has attracted more than 2 million views to date, was produced by Adut’s alma mater, Western Sydney University. Deng, who was conscripted at six years old, had never been to school. He came to Australia as a refugee aged 14, taught himself to read, write and speak English, and won a scholarship to study law in 2005. He now has his own private law practice in Western Sydney and spends much of his free time working with disenfranchised youth and refugees. Deng’s book Songs of a War Boy written with Ben Mckelvey will be published by Hachette Australia in November 2016.

A.C. Grayling is the Master of the New College of the Humanities, London, and its Professor of Philosophy, and the author of over thirty books of philosophy, biography, history of ideas, and essays. He is a Vice President of the British Humanist Association, a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts, and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature.

As an academic Germaine Greer has spent her whole working life teaching Shakespeare, in Australia, in Britain and in the US. In 1986 OUP published her book on Shakespeare in the Past Masters series, and it has been in print ever since. An Australian-born writer, Greer is regarded as one of the major voices of the second-wave feminist movement in the latter half of the 20th century. Greer’s ideas have created controversy ever since her first book, The Female Eunuch (1970), became an international best-seller and made her a household name. Her work since then has focused on literature, feminism and the environment.

When he retired from the High Court of Australia on 2 February 2009, Michael Kirby was Australia’s longest serving judge. In addition to his judicial duties, Michael Kirby has service as a member of the World Health Organisation’s Global Commission on AIDS (1988-92); as President of the International Commission of Jurists, Geneva (1995-8); as UN Special Representative for Human Rights in Cambodia (1993-6); as a member of the UNESCO International Bioethics Committee (1995-2005); as a member of the High Commissioner for Human Rights’ Judicial Reference Group (2007- 9) and as a member of the UNAIDS Reference Group on HIV and Human Rights (2004-).

John Bell is Founding Artistic Director of Bell Shakespeare, and one of Australia’s most acclaimed theatre personalities. In 2003 the Australian Prime Minister, John Howard, presented John with the Cultural Leader of the Year Award and in 2009 he received the JC Williamson Award for his life’s work in the live performance industry. He has been named an Australian Living Treasure.

Andrea Demetriades has worked consistently in Film, TV and Theatre since graduating from NIDA in 2006. She has worked in theatre across the country including Pygmalion for the Sydney Theatre Company, Oedipus Rex and The Book of Everything for Belvior and multiple Bell Shakespeare Co. productions including Twelfth Night and Romeo & Juliet.

James Evans is Associate Director at Bell Shakespeare. He is a NIDA (Acting) graduate and holds an MA (English) from the University of Sydney. He has worked extensively as an actor, director and dramaturg. James is Director of The Players, Bell Shakespeare’s touring ensemble, and has directed A Midsummer Night’s Dream (2016), Romeo And Juliet (2015), and Macbeth (2014) each playing to over 16,000 students in Sydney and Melbourne. James has co-written and presented acclaimed iPad App Starting Shakespeare (named Best New App by Apple in 17 countries), co-directed the ABC online series Shakespeare Unbound, and produced Shakespeare related content for Google Australia.

Brian Lipson is an actor, director, designer, writer and teacher who has been working in theatre for more than 40 years. He has toured extensively throughout Australia and Internationally performing on stage, tv and film. He has also directed and devised many shows including his solo work A Large Attendance in the Antechamber which received wide acclaim at the Edinburgh, Sydney and Adelaide festivals and toured the United States. He is a proud member of Actor’s Equity and has been nominated for seven Green Room Awards, winning three. He recently completed an Australia Council Fellowship.

Damien Strouthos graduated WAAPA in 2012 and since has worked extensively as an actor. In 2014, Damien toured with the Bell Shakespeare’ Company’s Henry V in the role of Pistol, directed by Damien Ryan. Damien is also a founding member of the Sport for Jove Theatre Company

Jacob Warner graduated from Actors’ Centre Australia in 2014. He has been in theatre productions including Romeo and Juliet for Bell Shakespeare; On the Shore of the Wide World for Griffin Independent, and Daylight Saving for Darlinghurst Theatre. He’s appeared in the films Hacksaw Ridge, Spice Sisters, Noah and The Fragments as well as the television shows Dr Feelgood and Borders.