District Merchants

A variation on William Shakespeare’s THE MERCHANT OF VENICE

By Aaron Posner | Directed by Michael John Garcés
May 31 – July 03, 2016
Folger Theatre

Love and litigation, deep passions, and predatory lending are taken to a new level in this uneasy comedy, which wades fearlessly into the endless complexities and contradictions of life in America.  Set among the Black and Jewish populations of an imagined time and place-—simultaneously Shakespearean, post-Civil War Washington, DC, and today-—District Merchants is a remarkable tale of money, merchandise, and mercy brought to the stage by four-time Helen Hayes Award-winner Aaron Posner.

Approximate run time is 2 hours and 30 minutes including an intermission. Children under the age of four are not permitted in the theater. Every person entering the theatre must have a ticket. 

Performances of District Merchants feature the music of Anders Fahey (banjo) and Seth Kibel (clarinet).

This project is supported in part by an award from the National Endowment for the Arts.

Special Performances

Free Folger Fridays
Join us on Fridays for free pre-show talks in the theatre.

Tuesday May 31, 7:30pm
Tickets available beginning at 5pm at the box office window; limit one ticket per person.
Thursday June 2, 6:30pm
Join us for a discussion with District Merchants Director Michael John Garcés.
Tickets are $20.
College Night
Friday June 3, 8pm
$15 tickets available for college students with valid ID. Call the box office or visit us in person to purchase your ticket in advance.
Wednesday June 15, 6:30pm
A scholarly, insightful discussion of the play with Folger Director Michael Witmore. Includes light fare reception. 
Tickets are $20.
Thursday June 16, 6:30pm
Join our young patrons for a pre-performance discussion with District Merchants cast members Dani Stoller (Jessica) and William Vaughan (Lorenzo). A beer reception with light fare is included. 
Tickets are $15.
CrossTalk DC Conversations: A History of Housing Covenants
Friday June 17, 6pm
Associate Professor Maurice Jackson, of Georgetown University’s History Department and African American Studies Program, and historian Mara Cherkasky, co-founder of Prologue DC and Mapping Segregation in Washington DC, discuss the historic use of racially restrictive housing covenants in DC. 
FREE, but reservations are required

Bard in the Park
Saturday June 18 and Sunday June 19
Folger Theatre and the Capitol Riverfront BID celebrate 400 Years of Shakespeare with two of Hollywood's best takes on his plays for a free weekend of outdoor films. Enjoy The Merchant of Venice (2004) and West Side Story (1961)!

Curator Talk
Tuesday June 21, 6:30pm
Join the Folger's Dan De Simone for a discussion on the Folger collection.
Tickets are $20.

CrossTalk DC Conversations: Jewish Life in Washington, DC During and After the Civil War
Thursday June 23, 6pm
Samantha Abramson, Program & Outreach Manager of the Jewish Historical Society of Greater Washington, explores Jewish life and key personalities during the Civil War, and the changes the war brought for the city's newly expanded Jewish community.
FREE, but reservations are required

Post-Show Talk with Cast
Thursday June 23, following the 7:30pm performance.
Join members of the cast for a post-show discussion moderated by Resident Dramaturg, Michele Osherow.

CrossTalk DC Conversations: A.C.T.O.R (A Continuing Talk on Race)
Friday July 1, 6pm
Join us for part of a recurring open discussion series hosted by Busboys and Poets as we discuss Jim Wallis book America's Original Sin: Racism, White Privilege, and the Bridge to a New America.
FREE, but reservations are required

Sunday July 3, 2pm
Call the box office at (202) 544-7077 for details.
Folger Theatre's open-captioned performances are generously sponsored by Vinton and Sigrid Cerf.

CrossTalk DC Conversations: Muslim American identity in the US
Friday July 8, 6pm
Besheer Mohamed, senior researcher at the Pew Research Center, will explore place of Muslims in the U.S. He will discuss survey data that attempts to quantify how Muslim are perceived by the larger US public and how that perception has shifted over the years. He will also present data on size and attitudes of American Muslim communities in the U.S.
FREE, but reservations are required

CrossTalk DC Conversations: DC Public Library's Peabody Room
Friday July 15, 6pm
Jerry A. McCoy, special collections librarian at the DC Public Library's Washingtonian and Peabody Room, offers a brief history of the Peabody Room (nearly destroyed by fire in 2007) and highlights artifacts of African-American history from its collections. 
FREE, but reservations are required


Season Sponsors:
Helen and David Kenney and Family
Neal T. Turtell 
Lead Production Sponsor:
Ann K. Morales
Contributing Sponsors:
Judith Areen and Richard Cooper
David and Margaret Gardner
Associate Sponsors:
Louis and Bonnie Cohen
Jeffrey P. Cunard
Barbra Eaton and Ed Salners
Wendy Frieman and David Johnson
Andrea Kasarsky
Julianna Mahley 
Daniel and Susan Mareck
Peter and Mary Jay Michel
Carl and Undine Nash
William and Louisa Newlin
Carolyn and Mark Olshaker 
Tessa van der Willigen and Jonathan Walters
Media Sponsor:
Maryland Public Television

Who's Who

Benjamin Bassanio
Scenic Design
Costume Design
Lighting Design
Sound Design
Resident Dramaturg
New York Casting
Production Stage Manager
Assistant Stage Manager