Trinity Rep is proud to announce that it will host a free public forum to discuss the history and issues surrounding The Merchant of Venice in conjunction with its production of Shakespeare's controversial play. The free discussion will take place at Saturday, February 25 at 2pm at Trinity Rep, 201 Washington St. in Providence. Neither reservations nor attendance to the show is required to participate in the forum.

Titled The Merchant of Venice: Sympathy for the "Other," the forum will serve as an enriching counterpart to the Shakespearian tragedy that has challenged both audiences and scholars for centuries. The forum will specifically examine the history of The Merchant of Venice, the issues of anti-Semitism and race that the play raises, and how Trinity Rep's production presents these concepts onstage. Trinity Rep Associate Artistic Director Tyler Dobrowsky explains, "since the play traffics in such hot-button and complicated issues as anti-Semitism, gender, and sexuality, we thought our audience deserved an opportunity to engage in a robust, lively and informed conversation about the production." Dobrowsky anticipates that holding the forum in the Chace Theatre, directly on The Merchant of Venice set, "will help to frame a fun, provocative discussion."

The panelists for The Merchant of Venice: Sympathy for the "Other" include Patricia Ybarra, Associate Professor of Theater at Brown University; Coppélia Kahn, Professor of English at Brown University; Rabbi James Rosenberg, and Trinity Rep Artistic Director Curt Columbus, who directs this production of The Merchant of Venice. "We're delighted to have Coppelia Kahn and Patricia Ybarra, two of the brightest Shakespeare and performance scholars in the country, as part of our panel, as well as local Rabbi James Rosenberg," said Dobrowsky.

The Merchant of Venice runs February 3 through March 11 in the Chace Theater. Tickets are on sale now at the Trinity Rep box office, 201 Washington St.; by phone at (401) 351-4242; and online at At the mercy of moneylender Shylock, Antonio must find a way out of losing collateral he simply can't afford to part with - a pound of his own flesh. A bold new setting brings to bear the timelessness of Shakespeare's controversial play.

Since its founding in 1963, Trinity Repertory Company has been one of the most respected regional theaters in the country. Featuring the last permanent resident acting company in America, Trinity Rep presents a balance of world premiere, contemporary, and classic works for an estimated annual audience of approximately 120,000. In its 47-year history, the theater has produced 58 world premieres, mounted national and international tours, and, through its MFA program, trained hundreds of new actors and directors. This season marks the 45th year of Project Discovery, Trinity Rep's pioneering educational outreach program. Last season, Trinity Rep's educational programs reached nearly 15,000 Rhode Island, Massachusetts and Connecticut students through matinees as well as in-school residencies and workshops. Brown University/Trinity Rep offers professional training for actors and directors in a three-year MFA program. The 2011-2012 Season continues with The Merchant of Venice by William Shakespeare; the world premieres of Sparrow Grass by Curt Columbus, Love Alone by Deborah Salem Smith, and The Mourners' Bench by George Brant and closes with Marc Camoletti's Boeing-Boeing, translated by Beverley Cross and Francis Evans. For more information or to subscribe, call the box office at (401) 351-4242 or visit Trinity Rep's website at