The Merchant is Coming!
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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 retributive responses.

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’)

Performink Magazine

“FOUR STARS” : Gay Chicago Magazine


"CRITIC'S PICK" : Eight-Forty-Eight, WBEZ Radio


(Reviews courtesy of Silk Road Rising from the 2007 world premiere production)



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