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The Merchant of Venice

by William Shakespeare : : starring F. Murray Abraham : : directed by Darko Tresnjak
The Merchant of Venice Play Clip

Fresh from hugely successful runs at the Royal Shakespeare Company in England and in New York comes the Boston premiere of Shakespeare’s tragicomedy, The Merchant of Venice, starring Oscar winner, F. Murray Abraham as Shylock.

“A performance as daring as it is powerful! Mr. Abraham delves into Shylock’s psyche. Skillfully directed by Darko Tresnjak, this production has been planted firmly in modern times.”
— The New York Times

The Merchant of Venice has been arousing controversies for centuries with raucous and gentle comedy, tender poetry, and its struggle with mercy and justice. The wealthy Merchant Antonio dotes on his friend Bassanio, a spendthrift who has depleted his inheritance. When Bassanio meets the brilliant, rich Portia, he asks Antonio to advance him money so he can compete for her hand in marriage. Antonio’s wealth is tied up in ships at sea and, despite his Anti-Semitism, he asks to borrow from Shylock, a Jewish money-lender. Shylock agrees, but insists that if Antonio defaults, he carve a pound of flesh from Antonio’s body. Directed by Darko Tresnjak (former Artistic Director, Old Globe).



04.03 and 04.10 5PM Dine and Discuss Sessions

Building on the success of this fall’s Laramie Project Dine and Discuss Series, ArtsEmerson and neighborhood business partner Vapiano will host Dine and Discuss sessions, following the Sunday matinee performances of The Merchant of Venice on 04/03 and 04/10. By making a reservation in our Dine and Discuss program, you can join fellow audience members and a special guest who will facilitate the discussion.

There is no fee to join a table, but please note that participants are responsible for the cost of their meal and for purchasing tickets to the related performances. Click here to register.

Dine and Discuss facilitators will include Robert Bertsche, Debra Cash, Jeffrey Seglin, and Maureen Shea.

Debra Cash has written about dance, performing arts, design and cultural policy for print, radio, television and the internet. She gives pre-concert talks, provides program notes and moderates panels and events sponsored by regional arts presenters including World Music/CRASHarts, Harvard and Wesleyan. A longtime consultant to the National Endowment for the Arts and New England Foundation for the Arts, Debra taught at Emerson and has been Scholar in Residence at Jacob’s Pillow and the Bates Dance Festival. She was a dance critic for the Boston Globe for 17 years, followed by a five year stint at WBUR Online and currently contributes to Arts Fuse, the Boston Phoenix and the Tel-Aviv based website Jewish-theatre.com. Debra earned a Master of Design Studies degree at Harvard and maintains an active career as a customer insight researcher and project manager for industrial design, technology and nonprofit organizations.

Jeffrey L. Seglin is an associate professor at Emerson College where he teaches ethics and writing and directs the graduate program in publishing and writing. Seglin is author or co-author of over a dozen books on business and writing and has written for a number of publications. His book The Right Thing: Conscience, Profit and Personal Responsibility in Today's Business was named one of Library Journal's Best Business Books of 2003. He also wrote The Good, the Bad and Your Business: Choosing Right When Ethical Dilemmas Pull You Apart. Seglin lectures on business ethics and writing around the country, has contributed commentaries to Public Radio's Marketplace, and is regularly featured as an expert on CNN, CNBC, Fox 25 Boston and other media outlets. Prior to 1998, Seglin was an executive editor at Inc. magazine. He holds a master's in theological studies from The Divinity School at Harvard and a B.A. in English from Bethany College. His weekly column appears at www.jeffreyseglin.com.

Maureen Shea

Directing credits include Music Theatre Group and Circle Repertory Company in New York; the Los Angeles Women's Shakespeare Company, the Philadelphia Drama Guild; the Empire State Institute for Performing Arts in Albany; Theatre Three in Dallas; and the Huntington Theatre Company, Coyote Theatre Company, the Nora Theatre Company and The Theatre Offensive in the Boston area. Her production of How I Got That Story was presented at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts as a national finalist in the American College Theatre Festival. She has been artist-in-residence at the Iowa Playwrights Lab, the Toneelacademie in Maastricht, The Netherlands and an Associate Director of the Company of Women, an all female Shakespeare Company led by Kristin Linklater and Carol Gilligan. Shea is a member of the Society of Stage Directors & Choreographers. She holds a Ph.D. in Theater from Ohio State University and is currently a Professor of Directing and Dramatic Literature at Emerson College in Boston.

Rob Bertsche has worked as a reporter, writer, editor, teacher, trial lawyer, and legal counselor. As a partner at the Boston law firm of Prince Lobel Glovsky & Tye, he represents a wide range of media in areas including libel, invasion of privacy, and copyright, as well as for business and employment matters. Bertsche is general counsel to the New England Newspaper and Press Association; lawyer to Boston magazine and the Harvard Crimson; adviser to a wide range of online entities, and a strong First Amendment advocate. He graduated from Wesleyan University in 1980 and from Harvard Law in 1989, both magna cum laude. He is the father of two college-age sons, the husband of a teacher of learning-disabled college students, and a Jew who converted in midlife from Christianity.  

Invite a Friend

Talk Back

Post-Performance Forums at the Paramount Mainstage
04.02 Society's Outsiders
04.09 Law and Justice

Discussion of “outsiders” in Merchant:
04.02, following the 2pm matinee of The Merchant of Venice, guest moderator Renée Loth (Globe columnist, The Boston Globe) and cast members F. Murray Abraham (Shylock), Melissa Miller (Jessica), Tom Nelis (Antonio), and Christen Simon Marabate (Nerissa) will join the audience for a 30 minute discussion of how societies treat outsiders, who is considered an outsider in Shakespeare’s time versus today, and the consequences of marginalizing certain groups within our society. Free to ticket holders.

Renée Loth is currently a Globe columnist and has served as Editor of the Editorial Page, deputy editor of The Globe's editorial page, and prior to that, political editor, overseeing coverage of the 1993 Boston mayoral race, as well as State House and New England congressional stories. Ms. Loth’s 15 years at The Globe included two years as a staff writer for the Sunday magazine and three years with The Globe's State House bureau. She covered the 1992 presidential campaign, inaugurating the popular "Adwatch" column analyzing TV political ads. Before joining The Globe she was associate editor at New England Monthly magazine and a political reporter for the Boston Phoenix. Ms. Loth is a frequent political commentator on local and national radio and TV programs, and has been an undergraduate study group leader at Harvard's Kennedy School of Government.

Discussion of law and justice in Merchant:
04.09, following the 2pm matinee of The Merchant of Venice, guest moderator Daniel Kelly (McCarter & English LLP) with U.S. District Court Judge Nancy Gertner and cast members Christopher Randolph (The Duke of Venice) and Kate MacCluggage (Portia) will join the audience for a 30 minute discussion of the legal themes in the play—what constitutes mercy and justice, the rights of those in power versus the underprivileged, and equality under the law. Free to ticket holders.

Daniel J. Kelly Mr. Kelly is a partner in the Boston office of McCarter & English LLP, where he practices in the areas of civil litigation and government contracts law. Mr. Kelly is the Chairman of the Boston Lawyers Division of the Federalist Society and serves on the Board of Commonwealth Shakespeare Company. For the last ten years Mr. Kelly has produced and appeared in the Shakespeare and the Law Series, a joint collaboration of the Federalist Society and CSC, which presents a staged reading of one of Shakespeare's plays by judges, prominent attorneys and public officials followed by a discussion of the legal and political issues raised in the play. Mr. Kelly received a BA, magna cum laude, with honors from the College of the Holy Cross and a JD with honors from George Washington University. Mr. Kelly is active as a director and actor in local professional and community theatre organizations, recently appearing in Jamaica Plain's Footlight Club productions of Oliver! (as Fagin) and A Midsummer Night's Dream (as Oberon).

Judge Nancy Gertner
United States District Court For the District of Massachusetts
John Joseph Moakley U.S. Courthouse, 1 Courthouse Way, Boston, MA 02210
Judge Nancy Gertner is a graduate of Barnard College (B.A.1967) and Yale Law School (J.D.1971) where she was an editor on The Yale Law Journal. She also received her M.A. in Political Science at Yale University. She has been an instructor at Yale Law School teaching sentencing and comparative sentencing institutions since 1998. She was appointed to the bench in 1994 by President William J. Clinton. In August 2008, she received the Thurgood Marshall Award from the American Bar Association, Section of Individual Rights and Responsibilities, only the second woman to receive it (Justice Ginsburg was the first). She has been profiled on a number of occasions in the Boston Globe, the ABA Journal, Boston Magazine, and The Wall Street Journal. In September 2008, Judge Gertner became a Leadership Council Member of the International Center for Research on Women (ICRW). Judge Gertner has written widely on various legal issues including constitutional and criminal law, criminal procedure, sex discrimination law, and the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines. She has been the keynote speaker, panelist or guest lecturer at many conferences concerning civil rights, civil liberties, employment and criminal justice and procedural issues, throughout the United States, Europe and Asia.


MARCH 29 to APRIL 10

Starring F. Murray Abraham
Directed by Darko Tresnjak
Theatre for a New Audience
Written by William Shakespeare

Cutler Majestic Theatre






Running Time:

2 hours and 30 minutes including one intermission


"A terrific production."
The New York Times


The Tale Behind The Merchant of Venice?

"Shylock is Me"