CORVALLIS - The University Theatre program at Oregon State University will perform "The Merchant of Venice," featuring a guest director from the University of Oregon, an OSU director taking to the stage, and a production set in a post-Enron collapse world.
Greed, anti-Semitism and the nature of relationships take center stage in this William Shakespeare classic that will run Jan. 30 to Feb. 1 and Feb. 6-8 at OSU's Withycombe Hall Theater. All performances begin at 7:30 p.m. at the theater, located at 30th and Campus Way. Tickets are priced at $10 for adults, $7 for seniors, and $5 for students. Tickets may be reserved starting Monday, Jan. 27, by calling the University Theatre box office at 541-737-2784.
For more information, call the theatre office at 541-737-2853. The performance on Friday, Feb. 7, will be sign language-interpreted.
Shakespeare's "The Merchant of Venice" has long been described as a problem play. It is neither a comedy nor a tragedy, and the character Shylock can be portrayed as a villain or victim - or some combination thereof. The play also deals with issues of religious hatred and anti-Semitism.
Jack Watson, a theater arts faculty member from the University of Oregon, will serve as guest director for the OSU play. One of OSU's most frequent directors, faculty member Marion O. Rossi, will tackle the complex role of Shylock.
Though the production and text closely follow Shakespeare's play, the OSU performance will be set in 21st century New York. Portia (Amy Edwards) is a rich heiress, sought by a marriage-minded Bassanio (John Brotherton), who seeks financial assistance from his friend, the merchant Antonio (Peter Platt). Antonio lacks capital, so the two friends turn to Shylock, a local Jewish moneylender. Antonio and Shylock strike a bargain: should Antonio fail to meet his obligations, Shylock can exact "a pound of flesh."
Meanwhile, Shylock's daughter Jessica (Amy Alexander) runs off with her father's money and jewels and marries young Lorenzo (Joe Metzger), a Christian. As Bassanio pursues and wins the hand of Portia, Antonio fails to repay his loan. A bereaved and bitter Shylock seeks legal redress for a lifetime of bigotry and scorn - and the loss of a child - with terrible consequences.
Joining the UO's Watson on the crew are OSU associate professor Richard George, set and lighting designer; OSU assistant professor Barbara Mason, costume designer; junior Allison Miller, stage manager; senior Jenny Rowe, assistant director; and freshmen Kristin Hoffman and Kimberly Wilson, assistant stage managers.
The cast of "The Merchant of Venice" includes:
New York City Joseph Metzger, a junior in theater arts, as Lorenzo.
Sugarland Amber Pepper, a senior in anthropology, as Nerissa.
Redmond Jason Craig, a freshman in pre-engineering, as a member of the ensemble.
Seattle John Brotherton, a senior in business, as Bassanio.
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Marion O. Rossi, 541-737-4917