Ira Aldridge, the great Shakespearean who left America for Britain in 1824 due to racial discrimination, became in 1831 the first Black actor to play Shylock. Nearly 200 years after Aldridge starred in the role in Britain, Ireland and Europe, John Douglas Thompson will be the first Black actor to play Shylock at a professional theatre in New York City.
Venice is often considered a birthplace of capitalism. “Perhaps not coincidentally,” notes Arbus, “it’s also the birthplace of the original ghetto. The play depicts a divided society saturated with hate and inequity. The world boils with anti-Semitism, racism, xenophobia, misogyny, classism, and homophobia.”
With Merchant, Thompson and Arbus continue to build on a long-time collaboration at TFANA that began with Arbus’s Off-Broadway directorial debut with Thompson in the title role of Othello. She has since directed him in Macbeth, Ibsen’s A Doll’s House, and Strindberg’s The Father.
THE COMPANY: Isabel Arraiza, Varín Ayala, Shirine Babb, Jeff Biehl, Danaya Esperanza, Yonatan Gebeyehu, David Lee Huynh, Maurice Jones, Nate Miller Alfredo Narciso, Sanjit De Silva, Haynes Thigpen, John Douglas Thompson, and Graham Winton.
By William Shakespeare Featuring John Douglas Thompson Directed by Arin Arbus Co-Production with Shakespeare Theatre Company
2h 40m, including one intermission
February 5th, 2022
March 6th, 2022
Polonsky Shakespeare Center
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