PICT Sets THE MERCHANT OF VENICE in Tense, Pre-World War II America

On November 3rd, PICT Classic Theatre will continue its 2016-2017 season at Union Project with THE MERCHANT OF VENICE, set against the backdrop of pre-World War II America.

One pound of flesh is the price demanded for a loan gone unrepaid. In a reimagined setting of the 1930s, the deal is struck by Jewish moneylender Shylock, who is too jaded for negotiation. The stunning, noble Portia fights back against his unfair terms, and the resulting verdict leaves one questioning whether justice is necessarily just. THE MERCHANT OF VENICE is regarded as one of Shakespeare's best-known plays, including some of his most adored and vilified characters, telling a complex tale of love, deception and consequence. PICT Classic Theatre's production will star Pittsburgh Post-Gazette 2015 Performer of the Year, James FitzGerald as Shylock, and will be directed by PICT Artistic and Executive Director, Alan Stanford.

"Classic theatre, in its purest sense, is exquisite actors telling enduring stories," said Stanford. "This season, PICT delivers 'Classics in the Raw,' an opportunity for theatre goers to examine five classic tales in the unique playing space of the Union Project, staged within the heart of the audience and accentuating the qualities that make them timeless. The barriers of the stage have been removed, as we invite patrons to get up close and personal with great plays, great actors, and great ideas."

THE MERCHANT OF VENICE is the second of five plays to be produced by PICT in its 2016-2017 season at Union Project, located at 801 Negley Avenue in Highland Park. PICT Classic Theatre has partnered with Union Project in support of the organization's mission of bridging gaps between communities through art. The season's productions, which in addition to September's SHIRLEY VALENTINE and THE MERCHANT OF VENICE will include THE LION IN WINTER, OEDIPUS REX, and SIVE, will all take place upon a stage especially crafted for a theatrical experience within Union Project.

THE MERCHANT OF VENICE performs November 3rd through 19th, with tickets and season flex subscriptions available at www.picttheatre.orgor by calling the PICT Ticket Office at 412-561-6000. Student and senior discounts available. An opening night celebration will be held at Union Project following the November 5th performance.

The Cast

Antonio: Martin Giles*

Shylock: James FitzGerald*

Nerrissa: Karen Baum*

Gratiano: Jonathan Visser*

Launcelot Gobo: Connor McCanlus*

Jessica: Fredi Berstein*

Duke/Aragon: Ken Bolden*

Bassanio: Luke Halferty*

Portia: Gayle Pazerski

Lorenzo: Michael Steven Brewer

Morocco/Tubal and Bits: Parag Gohel

Stephania: Carolyn Jerz

Salanio: Simon Colker

Salerio: Justin Bees

*Member of the Actors' Equity Association, the Union of Professional Actors and Stage Managers in the United States.

About James FitzGerald

James FitzGerald, winner of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette's Performer of the Year Award for 2015, returns to the PICT stage for THE MERCHANT OF VENICE. James was a featured artist for the 2014 season and is in his seventeenth production for PICT. With the company, he performed as Didi in Waiting for Godot, Dr. Bradman in Blithe Spirit, Ross in Macbeth, and Him in Woman and Scarecrow. Additional Pittsburgh credits include Charles Ives in Charles Ives Take Me Home (City Theatre), End of the Affair and Mouth to Mouth (Quantum Theatre),1776, Royal Family, Born Yesterday, Midsummer Night's Dream, and Our Town(Pittsburgh Public Theater), Candide (Opera Theatre), andHeads (Pittsburgh Playhouse). James's credits extend beyond Pittsburgh, including Chicago credits for Marriot's Lincolnshire Theater, Chicago's Second City, ETC., The Royal George, Apple Tree, and other Chicago venues including sixteen seasons with Chicago Shakespeare Theater. Regional credits include Cape May Stage, Milwaukee Rep, the Nebraska Shakespeare Festival, North Carolina Shakespeare Festival, and Baltimore Shakespeare Festival. James also was involved in the Off-Broadway production of Rose Rage, directed by Edward Hall. He was the recipient of two Joseph Jefferson Awards (Best Supporting Actor), a Jeff Citation (Best Actor), and an OE Award Nomination (Best Supporting Actor).

About Alan Stanford

Alan Stanford (Artistic & Executive Director) is in his ninth season at PICT. He was, for more than thirty years, a principal and leading actor with the renowned Gate Theatre, Dublin, where he recently directed a box office record breaking production of The Constant Wife, and previously Pride and Prejudice, which was taken to the Hong Kong Arts Festival in February 2015. He founded Ireland's Second Age Theatre Company. PICT credits: Jacques Brel is Alive and Well and Living in Paris, For the Tree to Drop, Great Expectations, Macbeth, Woman and Scarecrow, Macbeth, Pozzo in Waiting for Godot, Blithe Spirit, Don Juan Comes Back from the War, Lady Windermere's Fan, and The Kreutzer Sonata. Other credits: The School for Scandal (Point Park Conservatory), works by Shakespeare, Molière, Noël Coward, Oscar Wilde, Shaw, Beckett, and Brecht.

About Union Project

Union Project is a historic space that community restored maintained; the space was transformed as a creative solution to provide a safe and open space for the community. Union Project has come a long way since 2001, but its work still centers on the transformative power of the arts. Union Project believes that art can create change, and help to build a more inclusive, empathetic, and just community.

About PICT Classic Theatre

PICT Classic Theatre is committed to the creation of high-quality, professional thought-provoking theatre of substance. PICT accomplishes its mission by investing in and promoting the greater Pittsburgh community. PICT is the only professional company within the Pittsburgh region dedicated solely to presenting classics and the "modern" classics of Irish and world theater.

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