2017 - 2018 Season

Venice as a Metaphor for the World

Art & Society

September 26

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Teresa Fiore, Inserra Chair in Italian and Italian American Studies at Montclair State University, leads a discussion with Karin Coonrod, director of Compagnia de’ Colombari’s production of The Merchant of Venice, and Alessandro Cassin, deputy director of Centro Primo Levi in New York, on otherness, immigration, and religion.
Coonrod’s production The Merchant of Venice is the starting point for a conversation on immigration and religion as central issues in our contemporary world. The conversation will also include presentations by Alessandro Cassin on the Jewish Ghetto in Venice and by Teresa Fiore on immigration and exclusion.
This panel highlights the global relevance of Shakespeare’s play – recently described by Stephen Greenblatt in The New Yorker as “a cure against xenophobia” – and in particular of Coonrod’s approach to it, characterized by multilingualism and ethnic, racial, and gender diversity. The conversation aims at showing how, at a time of socio-political uncertainty for the Western world in its experience of “the other,” the play as well as the Venice ghetto where it was staged have precious ethical and cultural lessons to share about human rights, and cross-cultural and interfaith dialogue. It is in this context that Venice can function as a metaphor of the world.

Shakespeare in the Ghetto, the Ghetto in Shakespeare

Art & Society

September 24

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Scholar Shaul Bassi will explore the history and present situation of the Ghetto of Venice, the place where a cosmopolitan Jewish community has lived since the early 16th century. Having contributed the word ‘Ghetto’ to the global vocabulary, this site was a very vibrant international hub and a point of dissemination of Jewish culture for Jews and non-Jews alike. The facts of the Ghetto will be compared to Shakespeare’s fictions, to consider parallels, prejudices, echoes, resonances. The Merchant in Venice will be discussed as an example of how the Ghetto can draw on its rich legacy to provide topical lessons for the present time and as an artistic achievement that has paved way for the future of the area as a living art center.

The Merchant of Venice

Community Conversation

September 30th

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Join director Karin Coonrod and members of The Merchant of Venice cast to share reflections and responses immediately after the performance.