In February 1991 the Oregon Shakespeare Festival (OSF) premiered what was to become one of the most controversial productions in the company’s then-56-year history. A modernized staging of Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice directed by Libby Appel and starring Richard Elmore as Shylock, the production almost immediately sparked claims of anti-Semitism by the local and regional Jewish community. Throughout the spring and summer of 1991, complaint letters from festival attendees and other interested parties flooded company offices. Although the festival had presented Shakespeare’s divisive comedy ten times since its inaugural season in 1935, negative responses to the 1991 production were unique in terms of both their prevalence and intensity: the vehemence of the complaints was unlike anything the festival had experienced before from their primarily white, upper-class audience base.1