Shakespeare in Venice Summer School: The Shylock Project
Venice, Fondazione Giorgio Cini, 18-29 July 2016
The "Shakespeare in Venice Summer School. The Shylock Project" was the platform where leading scholars and theatre practitioners, with a core group from the project partners and a number of visiting lecturers and performers, explored the Ghetto and studied The Merchant of Venice from a trans-national, cross-cultural and cross-disciplinary perspective. Speakers from all partner universities gave lectures and seminars informed by the latest research. Excursions and discussions with the actors complemented the program.
The program of this second edition was distributed across two weeks of intensive studies with a number of events open to the public, attended by internationally renowned experts and teachers.
The Summer School culminated in the performance of The Merchant of Venice, by the Compagnia de’ Colombari, set in the Venetian Ghetto and promoted to commemorate the four hundredth anniversary of William Shakespeare’s death and the five hundredth year of the creation of the Ghetto itself.
Multilingual/Multicultural Merchants Symposium
Warwick, 10-11 February 2017
London, November 2017
Global Shakespeare contributes an international symposium devoted to ‘Multilingual/Multicultural Merchants’, with workshops and masterclasses taking place at two separate events in London and Warwick. The general focus is on how The Merchant of Venice has been appropriated, performed and received over the centuries across Europe and beyond. Specific attention is paid to mechanisms of linguistic and cultural translation and to the way in which Shakespeare’s work and its protagonists have been re-located to different socio-political, historical and geographic contexts.
The first event at Warwick (10 – 11 February 2017) is Hard Words for Children: Shakespeare, Translation, and The Merchant of Venice. The Merchant of Venice broaches complex issues such as interfaith marriage, ethnicity, parent/child relations and racism, as well as “extreme” feelings like jealousy, envy, and greed. Can a children's version be created without oversimplifying or neutralizing its disturbing implications? Can it be put on its feet in the classroom? How can teachers develop practical work that honours Shakespeare while exploring this play's 'hard words'? What part might translation play? These questions are addressed in a two-day conference that presents a programme of academic papers alongside practical workshops. We consider 'translation' in its broadest meanings: language to language, medium to medium, text into performance, play into graphic novel, early modern 'Shakespeare' into post-modern demotic. This is a creative and participatory conference: it will give us tasks to do.
The next event, 'Other Shylocks' takes place at Queen Mary, London, in November 2017. Details and programme to follow.
Shylock's Shadows: Post-Memory and Performance
Munich, Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität, 19- 20 May 2017
This colloquium gives special attention to the politics of space and place – not least because it is located in a city once known in the Nazi era as “the movement’s capital”, a local heritage which Munich long seemed somewhat reluctant to address. Staging The Merchant of Venice has always been a fraught, precarious and problematic venture, but never more so than in post-holocaust Germany. As Walter Kiaulehn, cultural editor of a Munich newspaper, argued in the 1950s, the play was then so utterly compromised that it should be banned altogether: “When the Jew and the Christian say how they hate each other and would like to spit on their beards”, he remarked, “I cannot but think of the Auschwitz ovens. So much has come to pieces, why shouldn’t there be a Shakespeare play among the ruin?” No doubt, some of its most blatant anti-Semitic productions took place in the Third Reich. But no doubt, cultural functionaries like Kiaulehn, who used to be employed in fact by Goebbels’ ministry, also played their part in Nazi propaganda. So to remind them of the Auschwitz ovens, rather than impose a ban on Shakespeare’s problematic comedy, may be an appropriate and necessary move. At any rate, the play quickly regained a place in theatrical repertoires, and Shylock continues to serve as a figure of contention and controversy just as of creative and critical productions – even, and even more so, in our time when personal witnessing of the Holocaust is yielding to postmemory, i.e. to the symbolic, narrative or performative acts of mediating cultural memory.