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Chapter 19 - Framing the Jew

Julia Pascal’s The Shylock Play (Arcola Theatre, London, 2007)

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  17 August 2023

Amy Lidster
Affiliation:
University of Oxford
Sonia Massai
Affiliation:
King's College London
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Summary

This interview with Julia Pascal reveals the philosophy behind the concept and creation of her 2007 production of The Merchant of Venice/The Shylock Play at the Arcola Theatre, London. The Ghetto-on-Ghetto framing device is explored as a central motif. Vital to this re-vision of the text is the living presence of Polish Ghetto escapee, the actor Ruth Posner. Posner challenges the representation of the malevolent, male Jewish figure of Shylock that has historically dominated the image of Jews in the European imagination. The staging of the script, through Posner’s gaze, is explained as a provocative act to spotlight neglected female Shoah experience and to interrogate the view of the creation of Shylock as an example of Shakespeare’s humanism and philosemitism. Pascal discusses her reasons for heightening the experience of Black and Jewish characters to hint at a critical reading of the role of the Outsider figure at the birth of the British Empire. The interview reveals the decision to confront a text from rehearsal to critical reception. Included are questions surrounding the context of daring to add to and investigate the play within a climate of growing antisemitism in Britain.

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Shakespeare at War
A Material History
, pp. 185 - 192
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2023

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