Shakespeare has been accused of many things: plagiarism, misogyny and, in the case of The Merchant of Venice, anti-semitism. In the play, Shylock, a Jewish money lender, offers a loan at no interest to Antonio (who has previously insulted Shylocks religion) in exchange for a pound of Antonios flesh, should he be unable to repay the debt. Through a series of unfortunate events, Antonio must default on the loan, and Shylock demands his morbid toll. While it might be easy to characterize Shylock as inhuman, Shakespeare takes pains to present the ways in which he has been unfairly treated, forcing the audience to question the roots of discrimination itself. The play even contains one of the Bards most famous quotes: If you prick us, do we not bleed? Most important, regardless of Shakespeares personal feelings, The Merchant of Venice provokes thought and discussion among audience members.
Fridays, 8 p.m.; Saturdays, 6 p.m.; Sundays, 3 p.m. Starts: Sept. 5. Continues through Oct. 11, 2008