F. Murray Abraham’s performance as Shylock, praised by New York critics as the greatest in memory, owes much to the fact that the actor is almost invariably taken as Jewish. That pardonable error, he says, is central to his portrayal of the much-vilified Jewish moneylender in Shakespeare’s “The Merchant of Venice,” which opens April 14 on The Broad Stage in Santa Monica.
OASIS provides an eclectic array of classes, many of which are free. Fitness fans can choose among such options as chair exercise, yoga and karate. Art buffs can study French and American impressionism or drawing. Others can explore Jewish spirituality, analyze Shakespeare or play guitar. Some of the classes are even taught by retired professors from UCLA and USC. And seniors who wish to travel can choose among a variety of day excursions and extended trips.
Since the Holocaust, "The Merchant of Venice" -- which opens Sunday at the Will Geer Theatricum Botanicum -- has been Shakespeare's most controversial play. The story of Shylock, the moneylender who demands his "pound of flesh," has been lauded by some as humanistic and condemned by others as anti-Semitic.
The melancholy comedy, written 300 years after the Jews were expelled from England in 1290, is the frequently produced in Israel. It's also been banned from school districts in Michigan and New York and denounced by Los Angeles-area rabbis.
Dr. John Menkes' "Lady Macbeth Gets a Divorce" at the Beverly Hills Playhouse is a witty and diverting drawing-room comedy that elicits something most sitcoms don't: real laughs.
"The Merchant of Venice" is 400 years old. The play was first entered on the register of the Stationer's Company in July 1598, along with a proviso that it shouldn't be published till the Lord Chamberlain gave his consent. And that didn't happen until 1600. It may be of some small comfort to know that, even in Shakespeare's day, artists and managers had to shear their way through red tape.