Dangerous border crossings: Nicolas Stemann's merchant in Munich

Fowler, Benjamin (2020) Dangerous border crossings: Nicolas Stemann's merchant in Munich. In: Kaplan, M Lindsay (ed.) The merchant of Venice: the state of play. Arden Shakespeare The State of Play . Bloomsbury. ISBN 9781350110229

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This chapter analyses Nicolas Stemann’s production of The Merchant of Venice for the Munich Kammerspiele in 2015. It argues that the director’s strategies transformed the play into an echo chamber for contemporary moral and mental situations, drawing on a series of global and local contexts (terror attacks; the rise of right-wing populism; Europe’s so-called ‘refugee crisis’) that were causing debates about stereotype, difference and tolerance to intensify in German society. Using suspended screens from which the actors read Shakespeare’s text throughout the performance, Stemann forced critical distance between the play and its contemporary enunciation, creating an elaborate counterpoint that caused multiple forms of exclusion to resonate (not least in the sections that presented Shylock as a Muslim figure). Examining Stemann’s procedures with reference to other directors’ attempts to resist the play’s textual anti-Semitism from within, this chapter explores the questions raised by a production that put Shakespeare’s “comedy” itself on trial. It also seeks to demonstrate how Stemann’s interrogation of the text doubled as an interrogation of the role that classics might play in reacting to contemporary political crisis, particularly in the context of the highly-subsidised German state theatre.

Item Type: Book Section
Schools and Departments: School of Media, Arts and Humanities > English
Research Centres and Groups: Centre for Research in Creative and Performing Arts
Subjects: P Language and Literature > PN Literature (General) > PN1600 Drama
P Language and Literature > PN Literature (General) > PN2000 Dramatic representation. The Theater
Depositing User: Benjamin Fowler
Date Deposited: 20 Dec 2019 10:44
Last Modified: 03 Aug 2020 13:10
URI: http://sro.sussex.ac.uk/id/eprint/88920
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