Directed by Dr. Jan Powell, the play follows a Venetian merchant, Bassanio, who falls in love with a wealthy heiress from a neighboring city. He has no choice but to borrow money from a friend. His friend, Antonio, must take a loan from a lender who strikes a deadly deal.
Dr. Powell said she decided to direct this play this year for the Shakespeare Festival because of its overlap with today’s political issues.
“The play itself is about the tendencies of human beings who designate who belongs to us and who belongs to them,” said Powell. “And we see that really clearly in a year that we have a presidential election. You see different tribes being formed in the different parties and who you are going to support, and who you are going to be against and sometimes people are against each other to a point of absolute hatred and abuse.”
Powell said the play is also about prejudice and the harm people cause each other when they single out and show hatred against particular groups. She said the only thing which redeems the characters in the play, as well as everyday people, is the capacity for love, friendship and loyalty.
The performance will include costumes that have elements of Renaissance and modern costume. Dr. Powell hopes to show that issues presented in the play are found throughout history and are still significant in today’s society.
Dr. Powell is the producing artistic director for Quill Theatre. She achieved her doctorate in Theater Arts focusing on Shakespearean text and has been directing Shakespearian plays for 36 years. .
“Merchant of Venice has some of the most beautiful language he ever wrote,” said Dr. Powell “It’s a combination of comedy and tragedy that really appeals to me. It feels like a very modern play.”
The players include Matthew Radford Davies as Skylock, Addie Barnhart as wealthy heiress Portia, Joseph Bromfield as Bassanio and Iman Shabazz as Antonio.
Quill Theatre’s The Merchant of Venice runs from July 7th-31st at Agecroft Hall located at 4305 Sulgrave Road in Windsor Farms. Tickets range from $15-$30 and can be purchased here.