The Case Western Reserve University/Cleveland Play House MFA Acting Program To Present THE MERCHANT OF VENICE

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The Case Western Reserve University/Cleveland Play House MFA Acting Program To Present THE MERCHANT OF VENICE

The Case Western Reserve University/Cleveland Play House (CWRU/CPH) MFA Acting Program kicks off its 2019-2020 season with Shakespeare's classic The Merchant of Venice. Directed by Broadway theatre critic and Artistic Director of Shakespeare Academy @ Stratford Sara Holdren, this timeless story runs November 6th - 16th in the Helen Theatre at Playhouse Square. The cast includes Alex Brightwell, Conor Canning, Kasey Connolly, Comfort Dolo, Gregory James, Abdul Seidu, Courtney Stennett, and Elisabeth A. Yancey. General admission tickets can be purchased at 216.241.6000 or clevelandplayhouse.com.

A deal was struck. Loan terms signed. But default comes with a lethal price. Will mercy or retribution win out? The Merchant of Venice, Shakespeare's most provocative tale of money, privilege, and prejudice, is a potent mix of suspense, romance, and courtroom drama rife with moral complexities. The CWRU/CPH MFA Acting Program's Class of 2020 presents the classic drama in a contemporary, 1980's interpretation filled with swagger and bite.

Director Sara Holdren says, "The Merchant of Venice is a play that has fascinated and disturbed me for years. It strikes me as belonging to our contemporary world, to its still powerful strains of prejudice, moral bankruptcy, and greed. It holds the mirror up not to our virtues but to our hypocrisies, our fears of the other, and our addiction to the stratifying violence of the free market. In many ways, it's a play about what capitalism and xenophobia do to the soul." She adds, "I'm thrilled to join CPH, this wonderful team of designers, and these brave actors in digging deep into what it really is and, in our present moment, what it may be."

Laura Kepley, Artistic Director of Cleveland Play House says, "CPH is extraordinarily proud of the Class of 2020 and thrilled to see them wrestling with Shakespeare's complicated play under the bold and imaginative direction of Sara Holdren. They are a fierce, compassionate and playful group of artists leaning into this challenge."

Don Carrier, Interim Director of the CWRU/MFA Acting Program says "In the 3rd year of training, the ensemble has traditionally performed in a classical play. The Merchant of Venice, a rich and challenging work, allows them to utilize the technical, interpretive and imaginative skills that they continue to grow while training." He adds, "I am pleased to welcome our guest director, Sara Holdren, who brings a wealth of experience, as well as a true passion and zeal for Shakespeare."

Jerrold Scott, CWRU Katharine Bakeless Nason Professor of Theater/Chair and Artistic Director says, "The Class of 2020 has shown themselves to be very skilled with language and style, and The Merchant of Venice really challenges all of those abilities as an actor. It's a difficult play, both in terms of content and structure, and I think Sara Holdren's work with them will be a terrific final challenge for this stage of their training."

William Shakespeare wrote The Merchant of Venice in 1598 and since then, it has been produced on stages all around the world, ranging from classroom settings to the Royal Shakespeare Company. In 2016, the notable Globe Theatre in London staged a production of it and featured Jonathon Pryce playing the lead role of Shylock. There have also been several film adaptations, most notably in 2004 featuring actors such as Al Pacino and Jeremy Irons.



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