As the artistic director for Shakespeare Miami, I have received emails telling me that by presenting “The Merchant of Venice” I am perpetuating anti-Semitism, and that the play should be banned.
This has been a year that almost dissolved the social compact of our country. Millions, emboldened by the anonymity of social media, wrote racist posts, forwarded vicious memes and committed hate crimes. Politicians across the globe gave tacit permission to express hate by disguising it under the norm of being against political correctness.
I can think of no better time to present Shakespeare’s masterpiece. Millennials are almost a generation away from personally knowing anyone who perished in the death camps of World War II. To families untouched by the Holocaust, it may seem a distant memory. Dialogue is crucial to preventing hate from prevailing.
After much soul searching, I think it is important to present the play as written — to use Shakespeare’s timeless language as a powerful tool to combat bigotry, hate and racism in our community.
Shakespeare Miami’s “The Merchant of Venice” runs the month of January in Boca Raton, Coconut Grove, Pinecrest and Hollywood. All shows are free. Go to www.shakespearemiami.com for more information.