Karin Coonrod is “an artist of far-reaching inventiveness.”—The New York Times
Karin Coonrod “looks for the flash in the actors’ eyes and listens for the music of the audience.” Now this internationally acclaimed director brings her groundbreaking production of Shakespeare’s most controversial play, The Merchant of Venice, to the US. Coonrod first staged this thorny masterpiece in 2016 in its original setting, the Jewish ghetto of Venice, to mark the 500th anniversary of its creation. Five actors of different races, creeds, nationalities, and genders play Shylock, the iconic Jewish moneylender at the center of the play. According to Coonrod, “these five actors, all of them very different, open up the play in a way that is both Jewish and universal.”
Art & Society: Shakespeare in the Ghetto, the Ghetto in Shakespeare
School of Communications and Media, Presentation Hall
Shaul Bassi, Associate Professor of English and Director of The International Center for the Humanities and Social Change at Ca’ Foscari University of Venice, is the author of Shakespeare’s Italy and Italy’s Shakespeare: Place, “Race,” and Politics. He will discuss the history and present situation of the Ghetto of Venice, the place where a cosmopolitan Jewish community has lived since the early 16th century; the facts of the Ghetto will be compared to Shakespeare’s fictions to consider parallels, prejudices, echoes, resonances.
Art & Society: Venice as a Metaphor for the World
Alexander Kasser Theater
Teresa Fiore, Inserra Chair in Italian and Italian American Studies at Montclair State, leads a discussion with Karin Coonrod, director of The Merchant of Venice, and Alessandro Cassin, Deputy Director of Centro Primo Levi in New York, on otherness, immigration, and religion. Presented in collaboration with the Inserra Chair in Italian and Italian American Studies.
Alexander Kasser Theater
Join Karin Coonrod to share reflections and responses immediately following the performance of The Merchant of Venice.
Karin Coonrod is a theater artist whose work has been seen and heard across the US and around the world. Hailed by The New York Times as “prodigiously inventive” and “galvanic” and by The New York Observer for “clear-eyed imaginative intelligence,” Coonrod’s most recent works include her own play, texts&beheadings/ElizabethR, at the Folger Theatre in Washington, DC and at BAM/Next Wave Festival (2015), Shakespeare’s The Tempest at La MaMa Theatre in New York City (2014); Monteverdi’s Orfeo at Palazzo Simoncelli in Orvieto, Italy (2014); Gertrude Stein’s The world is round is round is round in upstate New York (2013); and Shakespeare’s Love’s Labor’s Lost at the Public Theater (2011). She is founding director of the acclaimed Arden Party Theater Company in downtown New York City 1987-1997 (during which time she won an Encore Award for her direction of the American premiere of Roger Vitrac’s Victor or Children Take Over). She is also founding director of Compagnia de’ Colombari and is currently on the faculty of the Yale School of Drama.
Frank London is a Grammy Award-winning trumpeter and composer, founder of the Klezmatics and leader of the bhangra/Yiddish group Sharabi (with Deep Singh), Shekhinah Big Band, and his Klezmer Brass Allstars. He’s been called the “mystical high priest of New Wave Avant-Klez jazz” (All About Jazz). London has more than 40 recordings of his own music; is featured on more than 400 CDs; and has performed and recorded with John Zorn, Karen O, Itzhak Perlman, Pink Floyd, LL Cool J, Mel Tormé, Lester Bowie, LaMonte Young, LaMonte Young, They Might Be Giants, David Byrne, Jane Siberry, Ben Folds 5, and Mark Ribot. No stranger to large-scale collaborative projects, his works include the folk-opera A Night In The Old Marketplace (based on Y.L. Peretz’s 1907 play), the multi-media dance/poetry/video Salomé, Woman of Valor (with Adeena Karasick), Davenen for Pilobolus Dance Theater, Great Small Works’ The Memoirs Of Gluckel Of Hameln and Min Tanaka’s Romance. His first symphony, 1001 Voices: A Symphony for Queens (text – Judith Sloan, video – Warren Lehrer) for orchestra, chorus, soloists, tabla, erhu, narrator, actors and film premiered in 2012. Green Violin, a collaboration with Elise Thoron based on Chagall’s paintings for the Soviet Yiddish theater, won the Barrymore Prize for Best New Musical and has been performed in Russia, Holland, and the US.
In The News
STEPHEN GREENBLATT, THE NEW YORKER: “Shakespeare’s Cure for Xenophobia: What ‘The Merchant of Venice’ Taught Me About Ethnic Hatred and the Literary Imagination”
“There is something very strange about experiencing ‘The Merchant of Venice’ when you are somehow imaginatively implicated in the character and actions of its villain. … [I decided] I wouldn’t attempt to hide my otherness and pass for what I was not. I wouldn’t turn away from works that caused me pain as well as pleasure. Instead, insofar as I could, I would pore over the whole vast, messy enterprise of culture as if it were my birthright.” Continue Reading
THE ARTS DESK: “Shylock Comes Home”
“By removing Shylock’s individuality, the company acknowledged his status as symbolic, not only of Jews in the Renaissance period but of the outsider more generally and always.” Continue Reading
JEWISH RENAISSANCE: “Shylock Triumphs”
“An ambitious and bold production of what is arguably Shakespeare’s most controversial play by the joint forces of the Compagnia de’ Colombari and Ca’ Foscari University of Venice brings together an international cast performing in several languages and styles in the heart of the Jewish ghetto, lending a symbolism and interpretation impossible elsewhere.” Continue Reading
Programs in Peak Performances’ 2017-18 season are made possible in part by funds from the National Endowment for the Arts and the New Jersey State Council on the Arts.