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Performances and special events planned as part of our 2014-2015 mainstage season


Join us for a preview performance before our official opening—be the first to see the show and pay only half price!
$8 preview general admission
$4 preview for students and seniors

The Merchant of Venice

by William Shakespeare
Directed by Shakespeare & Co Artistic Director Tony Simotes


Preview night Thurs 10/23  7:30 pm
Sat 10/25  3 pm*
Wed 10/29  7:30 pm
Thurs 10/30  7:30 pm
Sat 11/1  2 pm and 7:30 pm
School Matinee Tues 10/28  10 am
The Rand Theater

*our opening day performance is a special fundraising event and will have assigned seating

To fund his friend’s efforts to court the resourceful lady Portia, Venetian merchant Antonio borrows money from the much-abused Shylock. When Antonio defaults on his loan, Shylock demands his due: a pound of the merchant’s flesh. Shakespeare’s provocative comedy asks tough questions about mercy, justice, and belonging that resonate today. Tony Simotes, artistic director of Shakespeare & Company, returns to UMass to direct alumnus Stephen Driscoll ’73** as Shylock in this production.

**Actors Equity Association

Post-show Talks

Please join us after select shows for a lively and enlightening conversation with Five College faculty in English, Theatre, and Jewish Studies, as well as community experts on subjects relevant to our production. All talks are free and open to community members.

"If you tickle us, do we not laugh?": Comedy in The Merchant of Venice
A conversation with Dr. Adam Zucker (UMass English) and Dr. Harley Erdman (UMass Theater)
Wed 10/29, following the 7:30pm performance

"Which is the Merchant here, and which the Jew?": Jewish Representation in The Merchant of Venice
A conversation with Ellen Kaplan (Smith Theatre) and Priscilla Page (UMass Theater)
Thurs 10/30, following the 7:30pm performance

"The Hebrew will turn Christian, he grows kind": Forced Conversion in The Merchant of Venice
A conversation with Jane Degenhardt (UMass English) and Paul Adolphsen (UMass Theater)
Sat 11/1, following the 2:00pm performance

Participant biographies:

Adam Zucker has been a member of the UMass English Department since 2004. His area of expertise is 16th- and 17th-Century English literature, with a special focus on the plays of William Shakespeare, Ben Jonson, and their contemporaries. He received his BA from Brown University and his MA, MPhil, and PhD from Columbia University. Professor Zucker is the author of The Places of Wit in Early Modern English Comedy (Cambridge University Press, 2011), and the co-editor, with Alan B. Farmer, of Localizing Caroline Drama: Politics and Economics of the Early Modern English Stage, 1625-1642 (Palgrave Macmillan, 2006). Recent courses taught include the department’s Shakespeare lecture, a Junior-Year Writing course on Tudor and Stuart lyric poetry, an undergraduate research seminar on Shakespeare and literary criticism, a survey of early English literature from Beowulf to Paradise Lost, and graduate seminars on theatrical space and material culture in early modern England. Professor Zucker won the College of Humanities and Fine Arts Outstanding Teacher Award in 2012-13, and his book, The Places of Wit, was shortlisted for the 2012 Globe Theatre Book Award. His interests include social and economic history; the cultural geography of Tudor and Stuart London; the interplay of textual form and historical process; theories of taste and manners; and satirical texts of all kinds. His current project is a study of stupidity and incompetence in the plays of Shakespeare and in early modern English culture more generally. He is a member of the editorial board of English Literary Renaissance and co-director of the Five Colleges Renaissance Seminar.

Ellen W. Kaplan is professor of acting and directing at Smith College, former director of Jewish Studies, a Fulbright Scholar (Costa Rica) and Fulbright Senior Specialist (Hong Kong). She performs and directs internationally: in Israel, she performed at Jerusalem’s renowned Khan Theatre; directed at Sherover and Jerusalem Theatres and Hebrew University; taught at Tel Aviv University; and worked with intercultural theatre companies. Recent directing credits include Circle, Mirror, Transformation at New Century Theatre; Pirates of Penzance at Smith; Bellow on Stage at The Egg, Albany, NY, and a New England tour of Gathering the Waters, a solo work by Teresa Whitaker. In summer 2010, she directed an English language version of Cao Yu’s masterpiece, The Wilderness, at Shenyang University in China, which then came to Smith on tour. (Currently she is contributing to a book, to be published in China, on directing Cao’s play.)

In Summer 2013, she co-directed a Global Engagement Seminar on Federico Garcia Lorca, in Spain with Estela Harretche. Other Spanish-language work includes directing in Costa Rica and Puerto Rico, translating plays, and facilitating performances of Hablando Con Dolores—about suicide among elders in the Latino community—in multiple venues in Massachusetts. She has written numerous plays, including Grain of the Wood, about Justine Wise Polier (Kaplan directs and also performs in this play); Sarajevo Phoenix, based on testimony from women survivors of wars in the former Yugoslavia; and Livy in the Garden, currently under development at Sewanee Writers’ Conference. Her plays have been performed at Theatre Matrix, LA; Cleveland Public Theatre; Meredith College in Raleigh, NC, and internationally, at the Jewish State Theatre of Bucharest and other venues in Romania; and in Israel.

She has published a book, Images of Mental Illness in Text and Performance, and is working on The Ties Don’t Bind, about Jewish-American identity in contemporary theatre. Other publications include essays in Our Voices: An Anthology of Jewish Women’s Writing; poetry in The Deronda Review and WordMyth; scholarly journals in Jewish History, Theatre Topics, Studies in Theatre and Performance, and a book chapter (in Spanish) on the work of Argentine playwright Nora Glickman.

Jane Hwang Degenhardt received her B.A. from Hamilton College and her Ph.D. in English from the University of Pennsylvania. Her research and teaching interests include Shakespeare, non-Shakespearean Renaissance drama, gender and race studies, Asian American literature, and African American literature.

Professor Degenhardt’s book, Islamic Conversion and Christian Resistance on the Early Modern Stage (2010), explores Christian-Muslim encounter in twelve plays written by Shakespeare and his contemporaries. Focusing on the stage’s treatment of religious conversion as a sexual seduction, it demonstrates how “turning” to Islam was imagined to have physical and reproductive consequences, as well as to endanger Christian souls. More particularly, this study considers how the embodied threats associated with conversion to Islam put pressure on Protestant understandings of religious identity that were predominantly spiritual in nature, reinvigorating Catholic models of resistance involving the erotics of virginity, relics, blood, torture, and martyrdom.

More broadly, Professor Degenhardt’s interest in the dramatic staging of religious phenomena informs her teaching, including a seminar on “Religion, Magic, and the Renaissance Stage.” Her explorations of the relationship between popular drama and religious culture have also led to a collection of essays, coedited with Elizabeth Williamson, titled Religion and Drama in Early Modern England: The Performance of Religion on the Renaissance Stage (2011). Currently, Professor Degenhardt is working on a new book that explores the shifting meaning of “fortune” in early modern drama to shed new light onto the relationship between overseas imperial ventures and divine providence. Fortune’s Empire considers how England’s transforming economic orientation placed new pressures on the cultural authority of religious belief and gave rise to a new faith in the secular forces of chance, hap, and luck.


Special offer

This is a play you'll want to talk about afterward — do it over a slice of pizza! Redeem your ticket stub for a 5% discount to Bruno's pizza in Amherst, pick-up or delivery.

Buy regular tickets

Our fundraiser!

Some of our best seats will be set aside on October 25 for a special fundraiser to benefit UMass Theater.

Please see the invitation below, and if you'd like to buy our special tickets for this event, please download the RSVP form to place your order or make a donation!

invitation for Merchant of Venice benefit

Click here to download the RSVP to order tickets to the benefit or make a donation.



A New Brain

Music and lyrics by William Finn, book by William Finn & James Lapine
Directed by Glenn Proud

new brain

Preview night Thurs 11/13  7:30 pm
Sat 11/15  7:30 pm
Tues 11/18  7:30 pm
Wed 11/19  7:30 pm
Thurs 11/20  7:30 pm
Fri 11/21  7:30 pm
Sat 11/22  2pm & 7:30 pm
The Curtain Theater

Who says death can’t be funny? Certainly not William Finn and James Lapine, whose bittersweet comic musical A New Brain strikes chords of exaltation and despair in turn. When blocked songwriter Gordon Schwinn is diagnosed with arteriovenous malformation, the prospect of high-risk brain surgery propels him into a frenzy of composing—but will this newfound creative zeal see him safely through the ordeal he faces? A New Brain treads the tenuous boundaries of life and death with charm, gusto, and a breath of spring in its step.

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Post-show Talks

Please join us after select performances of A New Brain for a lively and
enlightening conversation about the show with faculty and local experts. All talks are free and open to community members.

The Challenges of Performing Musical Theater
A conversation with Professor Gina Kaufmann, New Brain director Glenn Proud,
and cast members Ben Finn, Emily Tanch, and Meaghan Morris
Moderated by dramaturg Conor Dennin (UMass Theater)
Wed 11/19, following the 7:30pm performance

Designing for the Musical Theater
A conversation with New Brain costume designers Chris Hynds and Erin Mabee, Scenic designer Stacie St. Louis, and lighting designer James Horban,
with dramaturg Conor Dennin (UMass Theater)
Thurs 11/20, following the 7:30pm performance

New Brain in the History of Musical Theater
A conversation with New Brain musical director Luke Flood
and dramaturg Conor Dennin (UMass Theater)
Fri 11/21, following the 7:30pm performance

“New Brain, A” is presented by special arrangement with SAMUEL FRENCH, INC.

Cat on a Hot Tin Roof

by Tennessee Williams
Directed by Jared Culverhouse

cat on a hot tin roof

Preview night Thurs 2/26  7:30 pm
Sat 2/28  7:30 pm
Wed 3/4  7:30 pm
Thurs 3/5  7:30 pm
Fri 3/6  7:30 pm
Sat 3/7  2pm & 7:30 pm
School Matinee Tues 3/3  10 am
The Rand Theater

Sixty years after its premiere, Tennessee Williams’s thundering masterpiece has lost none of its impact. An American classic, Cat serves up an explosive Southern cocktail of sex, death, and revelation in the form of its unforgettable heroine, Maggie, and her struggle for dominance on the “hot tin roof” of her marriage bed. As the embattled Pollitt clan gathers to celebrate its dying patriarch’s birthday, will Maggie emerge victorious?

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In the spring semester, UMass Theater continues to offer audience members the opportunity to engage with scholars and members of the production on topics relevant to each production. Please consider yourself invited to join us after the performances on March 4, 5 and 6 for discussions about Cat On A Hot Tin Roof. Check our website for updates.

Special Event
In addition, we invite you to join us in advance of the play’s opening for dramaturg Amy Brooks’ symposium, entitled Tennessee Williams: Gender Play in 2015 and Beyond. The event is scheduled for February 15 from 2-6 p.m. in the Curtain Theater. Panelists will include Broadway director Michael Wilson; Provincetown Tennessee Williams Festival Curator and Co-Founder David Kaplan; former Hartford Stage Senior Dramaturg and UMass Professor of Theater Chris Baker; and Smith College Professor and theater activist Ellen Kaplan. A reception with light refreshments will follow the panel, and the evening will conclude with a screening of Richard Brooks's 1958 film version of Cat on a Hot Tin Roof. This event is free and open to the public. Local bookstore Amherst Books will be on hand with a selection of Williams literature.

UMass New Play Lab

play lab

The Sabine Play
by Michael Yates Crowley
directed by Christina Pellegrini
Wednesday, 3/25 @7:30 pm
Friday, 3/27 @ 7:30 pm
Thursday, 4/2 @ 7:30 pm
Saturday, 4/4 @ 2pm

Sagittarius Ponderosa
by MJ Kaufman
directed by Jared Culverhouse
Thursday, 3/26 @ 7:30 pm
Saturday, 3/28 @ 2pm
Wednesday, 4/1 @7:30 pm
Friday, 4/3 @ 7:30 pm

The Curtain Theater

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Performances for the two plays selected will alternate. Please check our website for updates about the plays and their scheduled performances. There will not be a preview night. Because this is a staged reading, all performances will be half price to encourage patrons to attend performances of both plays.

Now in its second year, the UMass New Play Lab exists to develop exceptional new plays in collaboration with visionary playwrights. This nationally-recognized playwriting festival will showcase two innovative, challenging new works in staged readings that follow ten intensive days of rehearsal with the authors in residence. Raw, unpredictable, and fun, the UMass New Play Lab will redefine how you experience theater.

More about the playwrights and the plays:


by Michael Yates Crowley
directed by Christina Pellegrini
Michael Yates Crowley’s The Sabine Play asks: How far can—and should—our imaginations bend to shape our own narratives of trauma or triumph? When dreamy outcast Grace (“Fat Grace”) Matthias accuses Jeff, the school football hero, of rape, their community wastes no time alternately crucifying and martyrizing her. But Grace has bigger ambitions. Smoldering with irreverent wit and anger, The Sabine Play triangulates past, present, and future to frame a startlingly honest portrait of young people who must decide whether to burn their world in order to remake it in the image of their desires.

Michael Yates Crowley is a Brooklyn-based playwright and performer. His work has been produced in New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, Berlin, and Edinburgh, among other cities. His plays include Evanston: A Rare Comedy (selected for the 2013 O’Neill National Playwrights Conference); The Tourists (2013 NNPN/Kennedy Center workshop); Righteous Money (3-Legged-Dog, 59E59 Theaters, Edinburgh Fringe); and The Ted Haggard Monologues (published by S. Fischer Verlag; filmed by HBO and adapted for feature film by Harmonium Films & Music). In New York, his work has been seen at Joe’s Pub, Rattlestick Playwrights Theater, PS 122, HERE Arts Center, 3LD, Dixon Place, the Bushwick Starr, and Ars Nova. He is a graduate of the Soho Rep Writer/Director Lab and former Artist-in-Residence at the Tribeca Performing Arts Center with Michael Rau and their theater company, Wolf 359. He was a Fellow in Playwriting from the New York Foundation for the Arts, and is a current member of the Lila Acheson Wallace American Playwrights Program at Juilliard. Since 2005 he has curated Hearth Gods, a reading series in the East Village.


by MJ Kaufman
directed by Jared Culverhouse
A meditation on the natural and cosmic cycles of the world around us, MJ Kaufmann’s Sagittarius Ponderosatells the story of a family in flux. Archer (still Angela to his family) returns home to Central Oregon to care for his dying father. At night under an old Ponderosa Pine he meets Owen, a graduate student looking back to the past to right the environmental imbalances of the present. In the wake of his father’s death, Archer (like his astrological namesake, Sagittarius) hunts for a way forward amidst the confusion of loss and the inexorable tide of change it brings. Delicately rendered and gently funny, Sagittarius Ponderosa is an honest, distinctive portrait of individual growth and familial renewal.

MJ Kaufman is a playwright. Originally from Portland, Oregon, MJ attended Wesleyan University and recently received an MFA in playwriting from the Yale School of Drama. They* have received awards and commissions from the Program for Women in Theater, the Playwrights Foundation, the National Foundation for Advancement in the Arts, Young Playwrights Inc., New Harmony Project, and the Huntington Theatre, where they are also a playwriting fellow. MJ was awarded the 2010 Jane Chambers Prize in Feminist Theatre for their play, A Live Dress. Their work has also been produced by Fresh Ink Theatre, the Yale School of Drama and performed in Russian in Moscow. MJ received the 2013 ASCAP Cole Porter Prize in Playwriting. MJ is currently a member of the Clubbed Thumb Emerging Writers Group, The Falcons and an affiliated artist at New Georges. (*MJ Kaufman is trans-identified and genderqueer. Preferred pronouns: they/them or He/Him/His.)

In the spring semester, UMass Theater continues to offer audience members the opportunity to engage with scholars and members of the production on topics relevant to each production. Please consider yourself invited to join us after each Play Lab performance for Q&As about the work. Conversations begin immediately following the performance and are free and open to all! Please check back for updates on topics and more!

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Dead Man’s Cell Phone

by Sarah Ruhl
Directed by Glenn Proud

dead man's cell phone

Preview night Thurs 4/16  7:30 pm
Sat 4/18  7:30 pm
Wed 4/22  7:30 pm
Thurs 4/23  7:30 pm
Fri 4/24  7:30pm
Sat 4/25  2 pm & 7:30pm
The Rand Theater

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Half-price nights for certain dorms and living areas during the second week of the run:
Bring your student ID to pay only $4 when you come on the discount night for your living area!
(And yes, you can buy for a friend or date!)
April 22 — Southwest
April 23 — Orchard Hill and Central
April 24 — North/Northeast/Sylvan and Commonwealth Honors College
April 25 (2 p.m. show only) — Off-campus

A ringing cell phone, an empty bowl of lobster bisque, and a dead man one table over—so begins Sarah Ruhl’s wildly imaginative Dead Man’s Cell Phone. When Jean answers the phone of a recently deceased stranger, she unwittingly embarks on a transformational journey of family deception, international intrigue, and romantic discovery. By turns touching and harrowing, Ruhl’s play is a whimsical and whip-smart meditation on the pleasures and pains of love in an increasingly digitized world.

In the spring semester, UMass Theater continues to offer audience members the opportunity to engage with scholars and members of the production on topics relevant to each production. Please consider yourself invited to join us after the performances on April 22, 23, 24 for Q&As. Conversations begin immediately following the performance and are free and open to all! Please check back for updates on topics and more!

Buy tickets


$16 general admission
$8 students and seniors
Except UMASS NEW PLAY LAB, which will be priced at:
$8 general admission
$4 students and seniors
Seating is general admission unless otherwise noted.


Order the full season of 5 shows, or a mini-subscription of 3 shows, at a discount of 20% per individual subscription, or 25% for a couples subscription.

20 for 20: Buy 20 or more tickets, and get 20% off. Call the box office at 1-800-999-UMAS or 413-545-2511.

Download a subscription form (PDF) here.

LOT 62 Parking note

Construction is scheduled to begin in the Spring of 2015 on the Integrated Design Building in what is currently Red Lot 62, across North Pleasant Street from the Fine Arts Center. The building will house the Departments of Landscape Architecture and Regional Planning, and Architecture + Design, plus the Building Construction Technology programs. Parking Services will create a new space for you to park, on the east side of French Hall near Infirmary Way.  (Please check Parking Services for the exact location of the new section of Lot 62.)  Due to the scope of this project, it is expected that most of Red Lot 62 will be closed during construction.  All other parking lots on campus remain open.
Some of the handicapped spaces will continue to be available in the “old” Lot 62.  Additional handicapped spaces are in the plaza area on the south east side of the Fine Arts Center, accessed via the Haigis Mall.


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