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Theatre students perform Shakespeare

Theatre+junior+Alex+Kennon+wears+a+blonde+wig+and+theatre+junior+Emily+Gyan+helps+her+put+on+fake+eyelashes+as+the+pair+prepare+for+a+Sunday+matinee+performance+of+%E2%80%9CMerchant+of+Venice.%E2%80%9D+The+play+will+be+showing+on+Friday+and+Saturday+at+7
Theatre junior Alex Kennon wears a blonde wig and theatre junior Emily Gyan helps her put on fake eyelashes as the pair prepare for a Sunday matinee performance of “Merchant of Venice.” The play will be showing on Friday and Saturday at 7

Theatre junior Alex Kennon wears a blonde wig and theatre junior Emily Gyan helps her put on fake eyelashes as the pair prepare for a Sunday matinee performance of “Merchant of Venice.” The play will be showing on Friday and Saturday at 7

PHOTO COURTESY OF LEANDRA GARCIA

PHOTO COURTESY OF LEANDRA GARCIA

Theatre junior Alex Kennon wears a blonde wig and theatre junior Emily Gyan helps her put on fake eyelashes as the pair prepare for a Sunday matinee performance of “Merchant of Venice.” The play will be showing on Friday and Saturday at 7

DIANA MIRFIQ

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Alex Kennon, theatre junior, said performing in a Shakespeare play is close to running a marathon.

Kennon and other Loyola students are running this marathon as they perform their adaptation of William Shakespeare’s “The Merchant of Venice” in Marquette Theatre on Nov. 8 and Nov. 9 at 7:30 p.m.

Laura Hope, director of the play and associate theatre professor at Loyola, set the play in 1938 fascist Italy.

Hope said the “Merchant of Venice” takes place pre-World War II but during Mussolini’s fascist dictatorship. Hope said Italians slaughtered thousands of Ethiopians during their invasion expanding their colonial empire, and the play tackles issues regarding greed, racism and power.

Kennon plays Portia. In Hope’s adaptation, Portia’s father was a Fascist general that died in Africa.

Kennon said she relates to everything about her character except for her “racist” tendencies.

“I try not to think of it as Alex and how Alex feels about racial issues, but as how Portia, this white woman in 1938 Italy whose father was a fascist general, would think about it,” Kennon said.

Hope and Kennon said they imagine that Portia’s father was killed in the Ethiopia campaign, causing high tensions when she confronts an exiled Jewish Ethiopian Shylock, played by theatre sophomore Akeem Biggs.

Biggs said Shylock isn’t allowed Italian citizenship and became a moneylender because that was among the only jobs available to Jews.

He said that his cast mates have more elaborate costumes than him.

“I look raggedy compared to everyone else, but in my own right I look good,” Biggs said.

Kennon said this play covers controversial issues that most modern directors cut out. She said Hope doesn’t brush the “anti-Semitism and racist slurs under the rug, but brings them to light.”

Kennon said the play stirs emotions because of the racial issues addressed in the play.

“Merchant of Venice is really tricky to do because it addresses so many racial issues and is really hard to do right without pissing people off,” Kennon said.

Kennon said she thinks that everyone should join the marathon that is a Shakespearean play and watch this play before it ends its run.

“It’s not one of those Shakespeare plays that is really boring and is going to put you to sleep. We worked really hard to keep it moving quickly and keep it interesting,” Kennon said.

Diana Mirfiq can be reached at [email protected] 

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