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The Mass Media

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February 26, 2024
An inside look at Bobby B. Beacon’s insides. Illustrated by Bianca Oppedisano/ Mass Media Staff.
Bobby's Inside Story
February 26, 2024

*”Theater for a New Audience”

ArtsEmerson: The World on Stage in association with Theater for a New Audience welcomes Oscar winning actor F. Murray Abraham for a production of Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice in a limited engagement from March 29 through April 10. Abraham stars in this Boston premiere as Shylock, a cold-hearted, Jewish moneylender.

Abraham has appeared in well over 200 plays and has also been featured in several films. He was bestowed with an Academy Award for best actor for his portrayal of Salieri, in the 1984 film Amadeus. Along with his Academy Award he has won numerous other awards, including multiple lifetime achievement accolades. In his illustrious career, he has appeared on stage with many well known actors, including Robin Williams and Steve Martin; who performed together with Abraham in Waiting for Godot by Samuel Beckett. He has also appeared in many films including The Name of the Rose and Brian De Palma’s Scarface.

“This play will change peoples’ lives,” said Abraham, “It addresses important issues like racism, sexism and justice.” Shakespeare’s themes of justice and injustice seem to be as pertinent today as they were when he was writing them.

The production is a collaboration between ArtsEmerson and Theatre for a New Audience, a group of Shakespeare scholars founded in 1979. Theatre for a New Audience was one of the first American theatre troupes to bring a production of Shakespeare to the Royal Shakespeare Company in England. The group’s mission is to help develop and vitalize the performance and study of Shakespeare and classic drama. Theatre for a New Audience has received many honors including the Lortel, Drama Desk, Drama League, Off-Broadway Theater and Tony awards.

 ”My realization of the character of Shylock has been compared to [Laurence] Olivier,” said Abraham, “It’s a great compliment.” The character of Shylock is a corrupted one; being a victim of anti-Semitism, himself, he is rather embittered. The production of Merchant of Venice is set in modern times: wallets and cell-phones take the place of messengers and money bags. It is a tragic-comedy that is as relevant today as it ever was. “It’s really all about injustice,” Abraham commented.    

Tickets are available at the Cutler Majestic box office at 219 Tremont Street, Boston, or by phone at (617) 824-8000. Ticket prices range from $15 to $79. Tickets can also be purchased online at http://www.artsemerson.org.  For more information, including show times, visit the ArtsEmerson Web site or check out their Facebook page at www.Facebook.com/ArtsEmerson.