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Wednesday, February 16, 2005

SU Theatre Presents Shakespeare's 'The Merchant of Venice'

Salisbury, MD---Lauded as a powerful tale of prejudices between Christians and Jews and the troubles that arise from mistrust, William Shakespeare’s drama The Merchant of Venice comes to the Salisbury University stage Thursday-Sunday March 3-6 and 10-13.

The story centers on a Christian merchant, Antonio, who is forced to borrow money from a Jewish lender, Shylock, who in turn demands a literal pound of flesh instead of interest on the loan. The play contains some of Shakespeare’s most famous soliloquies including Shylock’s “I am a Jew” and “the quality of mercy is not strain’d” by Portia, a luminous character who with the help of her fianc? Bassanio endeavors to save Antonio’s life.

Director T. Paul Pfeiffer added that there is another aspect of the story, which also translates to today’s world.

“Operating slightly beneath the surface of most of the plot is the subject of homosexual love,” he said. “Antonio is deeply in love with Bassanio, in fact, willingly ready to sacrifice his very life for this love, when Portia manages to release him—and at the same time, ensure that his love is taken from him. While there is nothing overtly physical in the production, the love between these two men is made quite clear by the last act.”

“I do believe that we are following Shakespeare’s directions, when we choose to bring these elements forward—especially as this takes 16th century ideas and places our focus on the timelessness of these conflicts and prejudices in our own culture.”

According to Pfeiffer, the masterpiece is still relevant today as a lesson in tolerance for people who are different. It is a play that “toes the boundaries between comedy and drama very closely, being both a story of anti-Semitism, tragedy, and death and the traditional comedic staples of cross-dressing and love,” according to Talkin’ Broadway.

The cast includes Christopher Wallace as Antonio, Travis Peters as Bassanio, Katie Keddell as Portia, Christopher Bramer as Shylock and Abi Treut as Nerissa. Other players include other SU theatre majors, as well as actors from local middle and high schools.

Set design is by Gerry Patt Jr., costume design is by Lisa Lantz and technical/lighting design is by David Shuhy. The performances are in the Fulton Hall theatre. Tickets are $10, $8 for seniors Wednesday-Thursday; $12, $10 for seniors on weekends. SU students and faculty are admitted free with ID.

>The show is not recommended for children under the age of 13 without adult accomapniment. For tickets call the Box Office at 410-543-6228. "


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