Genesius Guild's "The Merchant of Venice" at Lincoln Park -- July 14 through 22.

Saturday, July 14, through Sunday, July 22

Lincoln Park, 11th Avenue and 38th Street, Rock Island IL

One of William Shakespeare's most famous, powerful, and controversial comedies will be staged in Rock Island's Lincoln Park July 14 through 22, as Genesius Guild takes on the Bard's The Merchant of Venice, a legendary work that has inspired numerous film adaptations and three stage operas, with its 1989 Broadway revival earning a Tony Award nomination for star Dustin Hoffman.

In The Merchant of Venice, the young Venetian Bassanio needs a loan of three thousand ducats so that he can woo Portia, a wealthy Venetian heiress. He approaches his merchant friend Antonio, who is unfortunately short on money because all his wealth is invested in his fleet that is currently at sea. Antonio consequently goes to a Jewish money lender, Shylock, who hates the man because of his anti-Semitic behavior yet nevertheless agrees to make the short-term loan. In a moment of inspiration and dark humor, however, Shylock adds a condition: The loan must be repaid in three months or Shylock will exact a pound of Antonio's flesh. Antonio agrees, confident that his ships will return in time – but will they?

While Yale University's iconic literary critic Harold Bloom listed Shakespeare's play among the author's greatest comedies, The Merchant of Venice is most well-remembered for its dramatic scenes, perhaps best known for Shylock's famed "Hath not a Jew eyes?" soliloquy and Portia's speech on “the quality of mercy.” And although the play is still frequently staged, modern critics continue to argue over the play's stance on Judaism, and whether Shylock is the hero or villain of the piece.

Directing The Merchant of Venice is Patti Flaherty, a longtime Genesius Guild veteran who has also enjoyed leading roles in such area productions as Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, August: Osage County, and Genesius Guild's Madea. Fellow Guild veterans Jason Dlouhy and Andy Curtiss portray Shylock and Antonio, respectively, with Philip Tunnicliff as Bassanio and Faith Douglas as Portia. Joining them on-stage is an ensemble of 16 composed of both frequent Guild performers and those new to the Lincoln Park stage: Doug Adkins, Guy Cabell, Bob Hanske, Ireme Herzig, Mischa Hooker, Kitty Israel, Jacob Lund, Mike Miller, Susan Perrin-Sallak, Sue Staley, Matt Walsh, Chelsea Ward, Jack Williams, James Williams, Sarah Willie, and Bryan Woods.

The Merchant of Venice will be performed in Lincoln Park on Saturdays at Sundays at 8 p.m., and admission to the July 14 through 22 run is free, though donations are encouraged. For more information, visit Genesius.org.

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