NEW THIS YEAR: PREVIEW NIGHT!
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
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
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
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.
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.
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!
Music and lyrics by William Finn, book by William Finn & James Lapine
Directed by Glenn Proud
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.
Please join us after select shows for a lively and enlightening conversation with Five College faculty as well as community experts on subjects relevant to our production. All talks are free and open to community members.
Talks are scheduled for Nov. 19, 20, and 21 with subjects including 'A New Brain in the Context of Later American Musical Theatre', 'The Challenges of Performing Musical Theatre' and 'The Psychology and Spirituality of Those at the End of Life'. Please check back for updates on the order of the talks and information on the speakers.
Cat on a Hot Tin Roof
by Tennessee Williams
Directed by Jared Culverhouse
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?
UMass New Play Lab
Directed by Jared Culverhouse
Wednesday, 3/25 @7:30 pm Play #1
Friday, 3/27 @ 7:30 pm Play #1
Thursday, 4/2 @ 7:30 pm Play #1
Saturday, 4/4 @ 2pm Play #1
Thursday, 3/26 @ 7:30 pm Play #2
Saturday, 3/28 @ 2pm Play #2
Wednesday, 4/1 @7:30 pm Play #2
Friday, 4/3 @ 7:30 pm Play #2
The Curtain Theater
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.
Dead Man’s Cell Phone
by Sarah Ruhl
Directed by Glenn Proud
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
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.
$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.