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Shakespeare with a twist

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HOUSTON (FOX 26) -

"The Merchant of Venice" is one of William Shakespeare's most well-known plays, but you probably have never seen it interpreted quite the way it is currently being performed by Houston's Classical Theatre Company.

Houston arts blogger Abby Koenig sat down with the company's executive artistic director John Johnston to talk about the twist in their production.

"The Merchant of Venice is known by a lot of people," Johnston said. "It's required reading in high school. But it also contains some of Shakespeare's most compelling characters."

It's also one of Shakespeare's most controversial plays because one of the main characters is Shylock, the Jewish money lender. The character has led some critics to say the play is anti-Semitic.

That leads to the twist in this production of the play. The story is set in a Nazi concentration camp during World War II.

"The character of Shylock leads to issues of anti-Semitism, so we decided to put the story in the most anti-Semitic setting there is, the Holocaust," Johnston said. Some parts of the play were altered, and other parts left out entirely, to accommodate the company's interpretation of the play.

The Merchant of Venice is being performed at the Spring Street Studios, which is located at 1824 Spring Street in Houston.

For information on performance times and tickets, visit http://classicaltheatre.org/.

To read Abby Koenig's blogs, visit http://www.houstonpress.com/authors/abby-koenig/.

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