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Merchant On Venice
by Shishir Kurup
Poster art and text courtesy of Silk Road Rising, from their 2007 world premiere production of Shishir Kurup's Merchant on Venice.
March 15 - April 15, 2018
Greenhouse Theater Mainstage
2257 N Lincoln Ave Chicago, IL 60614
In Shishir Kurup’s Merchant on Venice,
Venice, Italy intersects with L.A.’s Venice Boulevard in a wickedly
funny, wildly inventive and politically provocative re-imagining of
Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice.
Set in Culver City, California in the here and now.
A tragi-comic, raucous,
dark and irreverent work based on Shakespeare’s Merchant of Venice
offering a bitingly South Asian perspective. Set in Culver City, CA
where hatred and intolerance among Hindus and Muslims have grown to a
boiling point. Using music, blank verse and present-day pop references,
the play explores how the preponderance of power in one sector of a
community can marginalize a minority and provoke reactionary and
Jitendra, a Hindu actor,
has fled Bollywood stardom to seek fame and fortune in Hollywood. To
secure backing for his “India-Indie flick with crossover appeal” he
schemes to marry a rich young heiress, Pushpa Shah, and in the process
endangers the life of his best friend, Devendra, by becoming entangled
with Devendra’s nemesis, Sharuk, a Muslim money-lender. Pushpa, is in
love with Jitendra, but as per her father’s will, must marry only a man
who can pass a multi-media test.
Written in an iambic
pentameter replete with Indian, American and Latino jargon, Merchant on
Venice reflects the many different sounds of the South Asian Diaspora as
well as the polyglot crackle of Los Angeles. The play contains songs
and incidental music, also by Kurup, influenced by both rock-and-roll
and Bollywood movie songs further highlighting the clash/mash of culture
that is so evidently the “masala” of the South Asian Diaspora. Merchant
explores the nature of empathy and grace as well as blame, personal
responsibility and internalized and externalized religious bigotry
through the dreams, hopes and biases of the various characters as they
pine and connive in the Los Angeles of the new Millennium.
Named One of the Top Ten Plays of the Year by
Chicago Sun-Times (‘Highly Recommended’)
Chicago Tribune (‘Hottest Ticket in Town’)
Time Out Magazine (‘Bracing...Ingenious’)
“FOUR STARS” : Gay Chicago Magazine
"HIGHLY RECOMMENDED" : Daily Herald
"CRITIC'S PICK" : Eight-Forty-Eight, WBEZ Radio
“CRITICS PICK/HIGHLY RECOMMENDED" : Chicago Reader
(Reviews courtesy of Silk Road Rising from the 2007 world premiere production)