In association with presenting Theatre for a New Audience’s The Merchant of Venice, ArtsEmerson: The World On Stage and the New Center for Arts and Culture will host a panel discussion on Shakespeare’s Jewish characters, focusing on criticism and interpretation of Merchant’s Shylock. Moderated by scholar, playwright, and A.R.T. Founding Artistic Director Robert Brustein, the panelists will include renowned screen and stage actor F. Murray Abraham, Village Voice chief theatre critic Michael Feingold, Theatre for a New Audience Artistic Director Jeffrey Horowitz, and Shakespeare & Company Founding Artistic Director Tina Packer. They will discuss the perception of Jews in Shakespeare's England, the many sides of Shylock (perhaps the most infamous and controversial Jewish character in literature), and the radical changes in the way he has been represented, from comic buffoon to villain to tragic hero. Abraham will also talk about his own portrayal of Shylock in anticipation of his starring role in ArtsEmerson's presentation of The Merchant of Venice, which opens March 29, 2011. Abraham has appeared in numerous films and stage productions and received an Academy Award for Best Actor for his portrayal of Antonio Salieri in Amadeus.