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News : Entertainment Apr 19, 2010 - 3:47 PM

Nights with Shakespeare explores The Merchant of Venice

By Nights With Shakespeare

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Bob Smith's Nights With Shakespeare explore The Merchant of Venice Tuesdays evenings 7-8pm now through Tuesday, May 25
Entrepreneur Robert D. Scinto is presenting the award-winning author, director and raconteur, Bob Smith in a brand new series of weekly one-hour explorations of Shakespeare’s masterworks. According to Scinto, “For eight years my wife, Barbara, and I attended Bob's Shakespeare sessions at the Stratford Library. The insights we gained made us eager to share this very special Connecticut experience.” Bob Smith is compelling and sharp. His insightful, good-natured observations give participants a much broader understanding of the world of Shakespeare. He helps you see that even though these plays were written 400 years ago…they’re completely relevant today.”

This popular new series began with a filled-to-the-brim seven weeks of Henry the Fifth. The current play, starting Tuesday, April 13 and continuing through Tuesday, May 25 is Shakespeare’s classic firebrand The Merchant of Venice.

“I chose this well-loved play,” says Smith, “because it’s loaded with passion, privilege, high style and betrayal. It’s Henry James! It’s Noel Coward! It’s Shakespeare at his troublemaking best! The glistening canals of Shakespeare’s affluent Venice become muddy whirlpools of castaway covenants, discarded bonds and that most ungentle of gentlemen’s agreements…the infamous ‘pound of flesh.’ At the foot of the Rialto Bridge, the inflexible Shylock collides with the merchant Antonio’s irrepressible permissiveness. Trouble starts and everyone will be caught up. Some win. Others only think they have. What a play!”

Smith continues, “We’ll enhance the atmosphere, by taking advantage of three large screens to project a selection of John Singer Sargent’s bedazzling Venetian water colors. I hope that it will be a great weekly gathering on the Grand Canal in celebration of Shakespeare’s brilliant and troubling work of art. ‘The quality of mercy is not strained.’”

Bob Smith has taught and directed Shakespeare for the Temple University Graduate Program, Kent State, The National Shakespeare Conservatory, the State University of New York, NYU at Musical Theatre Works and scores of other colleges and universities. For twenty-years he’s been a sold-out speaker, twice weekly, at New York’s 92nd Street Y.

The New York Times describes Smith as, "A plainspoken autodidact whose passion for Shakespeare regularly breaks attendance records...When Bob Smith twinkles at full throttle, there's stardust everywhere..." The Toronto Globe and Mail found him to be, "Open, warm, funny, generous, spontaneous, thoughtful and entirely charming!” The San Francisco Chronicle declared, "Bob Smith's brimming enthusiasm is undeniable and infectious. He takes a lifelong love affair with Shakespeare and distills it.”

Nights With Shakespeare takes its cue from the Library Journal, which stated “Smith is the teacher we all should have had to introduce us to Shakespeare!” At each session Smith deftly explores the complete text line-by-line, challenging the seminar participants to thought-provoking give-and-take discussions about each play, its history, its characters and its relationships. The Merchant of Venice is already underway, but new participants are encouraged to check-out a session to get acquainted with the series.

His memoir “Hamlet’s Dresser,” won the Connecticut Book Award. The Tulsa World named it “one of the most critically acclaimed books of the year.” The Boston Globe calls Bob “inspired and inspiring.”

Besides his ongoing series at the 92nd Street Y, he can be found regularly at New York’s Stein Center, the Field Club of Greenwich, the Greenwich Library and he is currently working on a play of his book, which has been commissioned the Oregon Shakespeare Festival.

The seminars for The Merchant of Venice continue for one-hour each week through Tuesday, May 25 (2010). Following the conclusion of The Merchant of Venice, the film version starring Al Pacino, Jeremy Irons and Joseph Fiennes will be shown on Tuesday, June 1.

Nights With Shakespeare is generously underwritten and presented by R.D. Scinto, Inc., one of the state’s largest real estate developers, at his corporate Auditorium in Shelton, Connecticut.

Other scheduled Shakespeare plays in this new series include Romeo and Juliet (June 8 – July 24); Shakespeare’s Sonnets (August 10 – August 31); Hamlet (September 7 – November 2); All’s Well that Ends Well (November 16 – December 28); A Winter’s Tale (January 4 – February 22 (2011); Much Ado About Nothing (March 1 – April 12) and Richard III (April 26 – June 21).

Seating is limited and reservations are suggested. Each participant receives a FREE copy of the play to follow during each session.

Participants may register (24/7): online at or by phone at 203.929.6300

The Scinto Corporate Auditorium is located in the Shelton Corporate Park at 3 Corporate Drive in Shelton, Connecticut. For additional information visit

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