Wednesday, February 1, 2012

SHAKESPEARE’S CONTROVERSIAL MASTERPIECE PRESENTED IN AN INTIMATE SETTING IN COLUMBIA, MARYLAND

THE MERCHANT OF VENICE
By William Shakespeare

WHEN: February 17 - March 24, 2012
Thursdays through Saturdays, 8:00 PM
Saturday Matinee, 3:00 PM
No Shows on March 1-4 and March 10, 2012
WHERE: Oliver's Carriage House, 5410 Leaf Treader Way, Columbia
TICKETS: Adult $36, Senior (over 65): $29; Student (under 21): $15
Group rates for 10 or more : Call 410.313.8874
www.chesapeakeshakespeare.com
410.313.8661
Please note that due to limited capacity, patrons are encouraged to purchase their tickets in advance.
For general information, call the CSC offices at 410.313.8874.

With a focus on strong, powerful performances in an unusually intimate setting, Chesapeake Shakespeare Company presents the masterpiece that remains the most controversial in Shakespeare’s entire canon.

Despite a story centering on anti-semitism that is enormously troubling to modern audiences, The Merchant of Venice still thrills with its exciting plot, poetic language and complex characters. Shakespeare’s classic tale that reminds us all of the discomforts of ethnic prejudice and the timeless valor that still excites our inspiration.

A fairy tale romance between Portia and Bassanio is assisted and encouraged by the generous merchant, Antonio. When Antonio must default on a loan, Shylock, the bitterly vengeful Jewish moneylender demands the gruesome payment of a pound of flesh and only the clever Portia seems able to save Antonio from the consequences of his anti-Semitism. How can audiences reconcile her vision of mercy with the appalling, heartbreaking, powerful character of Shylock, an intelligent and eloquent man tormented into an inhuman quest for justice? This is just one of the questions raised by this mesmerizing play. (Above: Matthew Sparacino and Heather Howard in The Merchant of Venice)

Director Teresa Castracane, a CSC Resident Artist, has a strong interest in exploiting the intimate space of Oliver’s Carriage House and offering audiences an experience of “Shakespeare in your living room.” Her extensive background in Shakespeare and in Shakespeare training allows her to bring particular focus to strong, nuanced performances that will be especially powerful in the informal setting.

CSC Resident Actor Greg Burgess (known to audiences most recently as King Cymbeline and Flute in A Midsummer Night’s Dream) plays the complicated role of Shylock (left). The cast also includes Scott Alan Small as Antonio, Heather Howard as Portia, Molly Moores as Jessica and Matthew Sparacino as Bassanio, as well as Frank Mancino, Jamie Jager, Kelsey Painter, Vince Eisenson, Chelsea Mayo and Michael Boynton.

Chesapeake Shakespeare Company has made a reputation for creating site-specific performances and offering non-traditional stagings. Experiencing a play outside of traditional theatre spaces intensifies the audience experience as the natural ambience of the environment is woven into the action of the play. Oliver’s Carriage House, which was built in 1830 with stone hearth and exposed beams, provides an authentically rustic and intimate setting for the eloquent language of The Merchant Venice.

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Mission: The Chesapeake Shakespeare Company creates performances and education programs out of great classic theatre.  Classic plays can be awfully good, but only if they speak to their audience and the community in a way that is dynamic, personal, and pleasurable.  We do plays that people like, and we perform them in innovative and intimate ways that intensify the connection between audiences and artists.  We do this because we want to know what makes Shakespeare so great—and we ask our audience and our community to explore that question alongside us.