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Shylock's House: theatrical representations of Jewish space

Michael Shapiro

<plain_text><page sequence="1">Shylock's house: theatrical representations of Jewish space MICHAEL SHAPIRO And as imagination bodies forth The/orms of things unknown, the port's pen Turns them to shapes, and cļiues to airy nothing A local habitation and a name.1 Introduction The long stage history of The Merchant o/Venice offers a number of inter- esting examples of how theatrical space may or may not be understood as Jewish.2 Despite claims made for verisimilitude, especially in the nineteenth century, designating theatrical space as Jewish primarily serves the interest of theatrical effects rather than the objective of historical accuracy, although obvious anachronisms or errors can be disconcerting to spectators who notice them. How theatrical space is marked as "Jewish" depends firstly on modes of theatrical representation available in a given time and place and, secondly, on the general awareness in the culture ofvisual or auditory markers ofjewish identity. Furthermore, one must be aware that there are different kinds ofjewish spaces - such as, institutional, vocational, and domestic, only the last of which applies to the representation of the interior of Shylock's dwelling. Early performances on the Elizabethan stage made little or no effort to localize scenes beyond the use of simple large properties - a bed, desk, or throne to indicate that the action was taking place in a boudoir, study, or royal court. In England, where Jews were not to return in any significant numbers after the expulsion of 1290 until 1657, audiences could not be expected to have any knowledge of even the most obvious Jewish symbols such as torahs, menorahs, mezuzahs; but, after 1657, as the Jewish i William Shakespeare, A Midsummer Night's Dream, in The Norton Shakespeare, ed. Stephen Greenblatt et al. (New York: W. W. Norton, 1997), 5.1.14-17. All citations to Shakespeare's plays refer to this edition. 2 A shorter version of this article was presented at the Xth Congress of the European Association ofjewish Studies, Paris, 20 July 2014. Jewish Historical Studies, volume 46, 2014 19</page><page sequence="2">20 MICHAEL SHAPIRO population grew steadily, codes of representation of Jews as Others developed, especially in theatre, literature, and popular culture, while modes of staging, increasingly devoted to pictorial realism, drew on such codes to designate characters and spaces as "Jewish". Modern theatre has little use for Victorian-style pictorial realism, though some plays may draw selectively on now-familiar symbols to mark Jewish identity and locality, such as the mezuzah on the doorpost of the Jewish house just offstage in Neil Simon's Brighton Beach Memoirs (1983), there to be touched and blessed by characters exiting the stage in that direction. Gregory Doran's 1993 Royal Shakespeare Company production ofThe Merchant in Stratford, England, used a mezuzah to mark Jewish space in a similar way, only to desecrate it when the masquers, all wearing pig masks, desecrated Shylock's house by rubbing it with a string of sausages.3 Here, as in many productions of the play, space is marked as Jewish so that it can later be desecrated. Furthermore, the invention of cinematography introduced new levels of subtlety and detail in filmed and televised productions of old plays, so that several recent productions have found various ways to mark the interior of Shylock's house as Jewish space. Another change, in part perhaps a function of increasing Jewish popu- lations in England and America, and also of increased Jewish participa- tion in the host culture, especially in theatre and other arts, was a more sympathetic portrayal of Shylock, a change which coincided with increas- ingly realistic attempts to give him his own Jewish space. Shakespeare gave a name to the anonymous Jewish moneylender he found in the Italian novella he used as his principle narrative source, but the Victorian actor- managers, especially Henry Irving, were the first to supply him with a local habitation, that is, a house of his own on stage.4 The early modern period In Shakespeare's own time, Shylock was probably caricatured by wearing a bottle-shaped nose and a red wig, the supposed colour ofjudas Iscariot's 3 Miriam Gilbert, The Merchant of Venice: Shakespeare at Stratford (London: Arden Shakespeare, 2002), 42. 4 An English translation of Shakespeare's main source, an Italian novella by Ser Giovanni Fiorentino that appeared in his collection, Il Pecorone (1558), is printed in Geoffrey Bullough, Narrative and Dramatic Sources o/Shakespeare, 8 vols (London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1957), vol. 1, 463-76. On Shakespeare's modifications, see Kenneth Muir, Shakespeare's Sources, 2 vols (London: Methuen, 1957; repr. 1965), vol. 1, 47-51.</page><page sequence="3">Shylock's house 21 hair.5 Nor was his plight presented in a sympathetic manner, if one is to judge from the subtitle on the title page of the 1600 Quarto, the first edition of the play. This statement, which we might consider as something of a publisher's blurb intended for would-be purchasers of the play text, summarizes the work as featuring, alongside "the obtayning of Portia by the choyse of three chests", "the extreame crueltie of Shy locke the Jewe toward the sayd Merchant in cutting just pound of his flesh."6 The First Folio, the one-volume collection of Shakespeare's plays published in 1623, seven years after his death, classifies The Merchant as a comedy, sorting the plays into three categories: history, tragedy, and comedy. Because early modern audiences had never seen a sympathetic theatrical portrayal of a Jew, Shylock must have seemed, for the most part, a good fit for the role of comic villain or "blocking agent", in what is essentially a romantic comedy. As such, his function is to thwart the progress of true love, Bassanio's courtship of the wealthy heiress Portia, by threatening to collect his collateral of a pound of flesh from Antonio, the man who borrowed 3,000 ducats from Shylock to finance Bassanio's wooing of Portia and who has now forfeited on the loan. Given the modern preoccupation with Shylock and the Jewish Question, one might forget that Shylock appears in only five scenes: 1.3, where he negotiates the loan with Bassanio and Antonio, a loan whose collateral is a pound of Antonio's flesh; 2.5, where he speaks to his servant Launcelot Gobbo, who is about to quit his job, and to his daughter Jessica, who is about to elope with a Christian, Lorenzo; 3.1, where he is mocked by Salario and Salanio about Jessica's elopement, and later encounters Tubal, the only other Jewish male in the play, who tells him about Jessica and her husband's free-spending ways; 3.3, where he taunts Antonio, who has forfeited on the loan and who is being led through the streets in chains by a jailor; 5 James Bulman, The Merchant of Venice: Shakespeare in Performance (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1991), 18-19. I have also learned much about the stage history ofThe Merchant from John Gross, Shylock: A Legend and Its Legacy (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1992); Toby Lelyveld, Shylock on the Stage (London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1961); and Bill Overton, The Merchant o/Venice (Atlantic Highlands, Nj: Humanities Press International, 1987). 6 Jay Halio, ed., Introduction, The Merchant of Venice (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1993), 84.</page><page sequence="4">22 MICHAEL SHAPIRO 4.1, the trial scene, where Portia saves Antonio from Shylock's knife and which ends with Shylock being punished as an alien who has threatened the life of a Venetian, a punishment which ends up costing him most of his wealth and requiring that he convert to Christianity. Except for the last of these scenes, a legal proceeding in a courtroom, all of them can be imagined as taking place outdoors, perhaps in the street in front of Shylock's house. Analysingtheearlyprintedtextsoftheplay, Roy Booth concludes thatthe play could have and probably was performed with no attempt to represent the interior of Shylock's dwelling: "Shylock's house . . . [unlike Portia's] apparently is only 'seen' from the outside: it is the rear stage door, with a window above. The interior is only realized by Jessica's unseen movements within. ... So an interior is suggested, and Jessica is associated with it, but no scene is evidently set inside."7 Bernard Beckerman observes that scenes in plays performed at the Globe were either completely unlocalized, vaguely generalized (Rome, Egypt, and so on), or localized either by announcement (for example, "This is Illyria, lady", Twelfth Ni^ht 1.2.1) or by association with a character strongly associated from the start of the play with a specific setting.8 At the Globe, Shylock's house would probably have been represented by one of the two openings in the back wall of the playing area, an opening in which an actual door could have been hung, as may be seen in the Dewitt drawing of the Swan theatre,9 and it could have been opened or closed depending on the requirements of the action.10 This general mode of staging, with two doors in the wall at the back of the playing area, was evidently employed in Roman comedies and later in early modern academic and scholastic productions of Latin plays, as well as in neoclassical commedia erudita of Renaissance Italy. David Bevington suggested that Shakespeare often seems to designate one door as leading to some sort of inner space and the other as leading to some sort of external space.11 Nevertheless, as far as is known, when a doorwas designated as the entrance to the house of a certain family or the gateway to an institution, 7 Roy Booth, "Shylock's Sober House", Review of English Studies, n.s., 50, no. 197 (Feb. 1999), 23. 8 Bernard Beckerman, ShakespeareattheGlobe, 1599-1609 (New York: Macmillan, 1962), 67. 9 See Greenblatt, Norton Shakespeare, 3292. 10 Mariko Ichikawa, "Shakespeare and the Use of Stage Doors", Theatre Notebook 67, no. 3 (2013), 130. ii David Bevington, Action is Eloquence: Shakespeare's Language 0/ Gesture (Cambridge, ma: Harvard University Press, 1984), 130.</page><page sequence="5">Shylock's house 23 it was not consistently designated as such for the entire play.12 On Shake- speare's stage, with only two doors and perhaps a central aperture between them, there would have been little point in marking one door permanently as the Jew's abode, especially when it was used with relative infrequency. In 2.6, when Lorenzo's friends have gathered to await his arrival and to assist him in eloping with Jessica, Gratiano opens the scene by describing the area near the door as "the penthouse [or porch] under which Lorenzo did desire us to make stand" (2.6.1), a spot which the late-arriving Lorenzo confirms is Shylock's house: "Here dwells my father Jew" (2.6.25). The elopement later in the scene requires Jessica to enter above, on a balcony or elevated playing space, then to exit and re-enter below through the door where Lorenzo and his friends await her. Jessica has an earlier scene with Launcelot Gobbo, in which she complains to him that "our house is hell" (2.3.2), but there is no reason why this scene cannot be understood or imagined as taking place in front of that house. Edward Capell (1713-1781), an influential editor of Shakespeare, desig- nated the scene as taking place in "A room in Shylock's house", a desig- nation of the sort one finds in printed editions of the next two hundred years but which bear no relation to early modern stage practice and have therefore been dropped by most current editors of Shakespeare. In con- trast, directors in later times often imagined some of the scenes in Act 2 as taking place inside Shylock's house, and so assigned to their set designers the additional task of rendering the space as domestic as well as Jewish. The Victorian period By the mid-nineteenth century, the Jewish population of England was growing rapidly, so that ordinary men and women had increasing contact with Jewish immigrants. During this time, stereotyped images of Jews began to circulate in periodicals like Punch and on the London stage.13 In terms of Victorian stage practice, by the mid-nineteenth century, the English theatre had evolved to the point where the picture-frame stage, or proscenium arch, often enclosed a small number of elaborate pictorial 12 Beckerman, Shakespeare at the Globe, 72. 13 Frank Felsenthal, Anti-Semitic Stereotypes: A Paradigm 0/ Otherness in English Popular Culture: 1660-1830 (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1995); Michael Shapiro, "Shylock the Old Clothes Man: Victorian Burlesques of The Merchant 0/ Venice", in Shakespeare's Wor'd¡ World Shakespeares: The Selected Proceedings o/the international Shakespeare Association World Congress, Brisbane 2006, ed. Richard Fotheringham et al. (Newark: University of Delaware Press, 2008), 119-29.</page><page sequence="6">24 MICHAEL SHAPIRO representations of a play's major locations. Such representations involved a combination of large built-out scenic properties placed before an artistically painted canvas backdrop of a larger vista, the whole spectacle illuminated by gaslight and limelight. Such elaborate scenic effects would be arranged behind closed curtains, so the audience could be taken by surprise when the curtains opened, much as we see in major opera houses to this day. But, because such effects were expensive to produce and time- consuming to set up and change during a performance, producers often minimized the number of scene changes by clustering scenes that would match a particular backdrop and set ofbuilt-out scenic props, or by playing brief scenes with few characters in front of closed curtains behind which stagehands would feverishly but quietly set up the next spectacle. For The Merchant of Venice, for most of the Victorian period, the scenes in front of Shylock's house, all of which are in Act 2, were probably treated as "front scenes", that is, scenes played before closed curtains. Some "front scenes" were played before cloths set up in front of the main curtains, but it does not appear that this technique was used in productions of The Merchant to depict the interior of Shylock's house. In 1879, Henry Irving mounted his famous production ofThe Merchant at the Lyceum Theatre in London. His portrayal of Shylock was sympathetic, which was not a revolutionary idea, for ever since Edmund Kean had taken up the role in 1815, leading actors of the English stage had sought to play Shylock, in various ways, as a man more sinned against than sinning, stressing not the moment when he whets his knife in the courtroom in anticipation of taking a pound of Antonio's flesh (and therefore his life), but the moments when he is harassed and humiliated by the Venetians, finally fleeced of most of his wealth and forced to convert to Christianity to save his life. Irving, following Kean, Booth, and others, found his own path to a sympathetic and more human Shylock, often eliminating the fifth act of the play, the comic reunion of the lovers after the trial scene, so that the play ended with a shattered Shylock making his tragic exit from the courtroom.14 There is much more to say about this evolution of Shakespeare's stage Jewish villain into a refined and sympathetic victim, which reached its apex in Irving's run of more than 1,000 performances, but for present purposes it is best to focus on what, from the scenic point of view, was Irving's novel approach to the representation ofjewish space. Always involved in the visual aspects of his productions, as he was in 14 Lely veld, Shylock on the St age, 92-3 .</page><page sequence="7">Shylock's house 25 matters of music and song, Irving instructed his scenic designers, chief among them an artist named Hawes Craven, to develop a set that could be used for most of the scenes in the second act of the text, along with a few other outdoor or street scenes, as well as sets for Portia's house and the courtroom scene. It included a canvas backdrop on which was painted a cityscape of Venice, based on sketches that Irving's scene painters made on site.15 Irving was inspired by, but determined to outdo, similar pictorial effects in the Bancrofts' production of 1875, in which the third tableau included the outside of Shylock's house.16 But in Irving's Merchant of 1879, when the curtain rose about a third of the way into the play, spectators saw, for the first time on the English stage, a canal large enough to hold a gondola and over which was built a smaller version of the Rialto bridge spanning the Grand Canal, as well as a painted backdrop showing a view of Venice. Most significantly, at the foot of the bridge, downstage centre, was a small house, a three-dimensional affair of two storeys, with windows and a balcony.17 The house was too small to permit the staging within it of actual scenes, but Irving used it for one of the most famous moments in his production, when Shylock returns from his dinner with Bassanio and Antonio to his now empty house. I quote William Winter's account: a revel of riotous maskers . . . sang, danced, frolicked, and tumbled in front of Shylock's house, as though obtaining mischievous pleasure in disturb- ingthe neighborhood ofthejew's decorous dwelling. Soon, that clamorous rabble streamed away; there was a lull in the music, and the grim figure of Shylock, his staff in one hand, his lantern in the other, appeared on the bridge, where for an instant he paused, his seamed, cruel face, visible in a gleam of ruddy light, contorted by a sneer, as he listened to the sound of revelry dying away in the distance. Then he descended the steps, crossed to his dwelling, raised his right hand, struck twice upon the door with the iron knocker, and stood like a statue, waiting - while a slow-descending curtain closed in one of the most expressive pictures that any stage has ever presented.18 Ellen Terry, who played Portia and many other female leading roles 15 Jeffrey Richards, "Irving and His Scenic Artists", in Richard Foulkes, ed., Henry Irving: A Re-Evaluation of the Pre-Eminent Victorian Actor-Manager (Aldershot: Ashgate, 2008), 107. 16 George C. D. Odell, Shakespeare from Better ton to Irving, 2 vols (New York: Scribners, 1920), vol. 2, 307. 17 For a sketch of the set, see Stephen Cockett, "Serenade in a Gondola: Music and Interpolated Action in Irving's Production of The Merchant of Venice", in Foulkes, Henry Irving, 141. 18 William Winter, Shakespeare on the Stage (New York: Moffat, Yard, and Co., 1911), 186-7.</page><page sequence="8">26 MICHAEL SHAPIRO in Irving's productions, as well as being his close friend and possibly his mistress,19 was ecstatic in her praise of this effect: "For absolute pathos, achieved by absolute simplicity of means, I never saw anything in the theatre to compare with Shylock's return home over the bridge to his deserted house after Jessica's flight."20 There is, of course, no such moment in Shakespeare's text; Irving had clearly borrowed it from Verdi's Rivoletto, but this bit of stage business found its way into many subsequent productions.21 Indeed, in his 1908 production of the play at His Majesty's Theatre in London, Herbert Beerbohm Tree elaborated on Irving's interpolation. He used a set configured essentially like the one Irving used for much of Act 2 - a central canal spanned by two bridges and, a little to stage right, Shylock's house, a grander structure than Irving's: it had a massive front door, large windows on the ground floor and an upper floor which was a balcony framed by a cloister-like arcade. Like Irving, Tree extended the moment but did so even further. Irving had the curtain descend just after he struck the door with the iron knocker, while Tree crossed the bridges with staff and lantern and knocked loudly at the door of his house. But whereas Irving ended the scene at this point, "Tree has Shylock try the door, enter, and then wander in growing distress from room to room, vainly calling his daughter's name Meanwhile Shylock "discovering his coffer rifled, and the place all in disorder . . . utters one long distracted groan, and calling Jessica again he exits from the room, and nearly/alls out of the street door With a piteous cry he drops the lantern and, bursting into sobs, he falls against the wall ... of the canal as the Curtain/alls."22 Tree, as far as I know, was the first stage-actor actually to play a scene within the confines of Shylock's house. Audiences could catch glimpses of him or at least of the light of his lantern through the large first-floor windows as he seemed to scurry from room to room, although what they could see was to a great degree informed by what one critic called his "ever- increasing wail of despair".23 For Tree, who evoked sympathy for Shylock by adding episodes of mockery and persecution, the brief stage business within the house made explicit Irving's subtle suggestion that Venetian 19 Katherine Cockin, "Ellen Terry and Henry Irving", in Foulkes, Henry Irving, 38-48. 20 Ellen Terry, My Life in the Theatre, 186, cited in Cockett, "Serenade in a Gondola", 135. 21 Bulman, Merchant qfVenice, 38. 22 John Ripley, "Sociology and Soundscape: Beerbohm Tree's 1908 'Merchant of Venice'", ShakespeareQuarterly 56 (2005), 401. 23 J. T. Grein, quoted in ibid.</page><page sequence="9">Shylock's house 27 cruelty had violated the integrity of his family and invaded the sanctuary of his personal Jewish space. As Cary Mazer put it, "Irving showed Shylock returning from dinner after Jessica's elopement; Tree felt obliged to show Shylock entering the house and discovering her absence".24 In the United States, Victorian notions of verisimilitude and pictorial- ism persisted into the twentieth century, as in David Belasco's 1922 pro- duction of The Merchant at the Lyceum Theater in New York City.25 Like Tree, Belasco expanded Irving's return to the house and like Tree he enlarged Shylock's house into a structure big enough to contain Shylock's frantic search for his daughter and to allow it to be seen by the audience through window-like apertures. Rather than having Shylock exit from the stage without opening the door to his home (as Irving did), Belasco faded the lights as Shylock reached the threshold and, after a brief interval, showed Shylock enter the interior of his residence: "Shylock sees a jeweled ring upon the jloor; rushes across the stacje and snatches it up, crying 'Jessica, my girl, Jessica!' He sees the open chest and utters a piercing cry as he realizes that he has been robbed. Turning, he sees, snatches up and reads, the letter, left by Jessica."26 One reviewer recalled this moment in detail: "It is only gradually, as he enters the darkened house with its one lantern emphasizing its loneliness, that the truth dawns upon him. He hurries up the stairs, and then down again. He stumbles over the keys flung in the corner; he treads on a few dropped ducats; he catches sight of some silk protruding from under the lid of a great chest; and then at last his more or less smothered cries rise into a crescendo of misery, a hysterical scream for his daughter."27 Once again, the Jewish space created on stage becomes the site ofjewish suffering. The modern theatre Victorian-style pictorial realism and the modes of staging that sustained it gradually went out of style during the twentieth century. In the hundreds of productions (and adaptations) of the play during the last 100 years, only 24 Cary Mazer, Shakespeare Re/ashioned: Elizabethan Plays on Edwardian Stages (Ann Arbor: UMI Research Press, 1981), 39. 25 For information and sources on Belasco's production, I am indebted to an unpublished essay by Mark Hodin, which is part of a forthcoming collection of essays on Jewish responses (mostly artistic) to The Merchant of Venice co-edited by Michael Shapiro and Edna Nahshon. 26 David Belasco, Preface, The Merchant of Venice: A Comedy by WHliam Shakespeare (New York: privately printed, 1922), 96-7. 27 "Mr. Warfield's Shylock", The International interpreter, 13 Jan. 1923, 1292.</page><page sequence="10">28 MICHAEL SHAPIRO a handful of which can be discussed in this essay, one can find vestiges of older staging practices - proscenium-arch stage, painted backdrops, built-out structures used only for specific locations, and obsession with archaeologically accurate detail. On the modern stage, the general tendency is not to label areas or structures as specifically as this example suggests, to move away from pictorialism and to treat the entire playing area as free and undefined space capable of redefinition in accordance with the changing localities of the action. Such redefinition can be achieved by changes in lighting, by means of sound and/or music, and by bringing out scenic properties and/or staging actions suggestive of specific locations. In her book on productions ofThe Merchant at Stratford, Miriam Gilbert notes that Shylock's return to his house disappeared from most of their productions except for the 1947 version directed by Michael Benthall.28 There is also a tendency in modern-dress productions to suggest that Shylock's home was still essentially his office, especially the 1978 and 1981 productions (both directed by John Barton) which showed Shylock (Patrick Stewart and David Suchet) weighing out money while calling for Jessica. The 1993 production (directed by David Thacker) clearly distinguished workplace from home. The interior of Shylock's was not portrayed by painted backdrops and built-out scenery, as it would have been on the Victorian stage, but was suggested by the deft use of a few properties, music, costume and action: "Shylock [David Calder] appeared in a smoking jacket, turned on a stereo player to listen to Brahms, picked up a framed photograph and even blew a speck of dust off it, and then sat down in an armchair."29 Two productions by the Chicago Shakespeare Theater, in 1997 and 2005, illustrate two other ways of imagining Jewish space.30 In the 1997 production, Shylock's scene with Jessica was introduced by a few bars of the "Jewish" violin music that opened the play, and the lights came up on him seated at a table with Jessica standing next to him. The prompt book indicates that she was to bless the candles, evidently in preparation for the Sabbath, but in the archival dvd, she cut bread and poured wine but uttered no blessings and lit no candles (as she was to do in the 2005 production). Shylock seemed to be counting money and making entries 28 Gilbert, Merchant o/Venice, 42. 29 Ibid., 40. 30 Michael Shapiro, "Two Merchants: The Glow of the Roaring Twenties and the Shadow of 9/11", in Chicago Shakespeare Theater, ed. Regina Buccola and Peter Kanelos (DeKalb: Northern Illinois University Press, 2013), 229-47.</page><page sequence="11">Shylock's house 29 in a ledger, contrary to the spirit of the Sabbath, but the scene nonetheless depicted a moment of cosy domesticity. Unlike the 1997 production, the 2005 production blurred the aural distinctions between Venice and Belmont. Instead of using Alaric Jans's original "Jewish" motifs for Shylock's world, and swing and tango to characterize Portia's domain, as in the 1997 production, the 2005 production eschewed music entirely. Instead of music, Barbara Gaines relied on Lindsay Jones's metallic sound-scape, a "hair-raising 'score' made up of electronically distorted gongs and chimes".31 The only music in the production occurred in an inserted scene designed to stress the universality of the impulse underlying religious expression. More or less simultaneously, in pools of light in various parts of the stage, a Muslim unrolled his prayer rug and then chanted his devotions, an Afro-American Christian knelt and crossed himself in response to the strains of a Gregorian chant, and Jessica intoned the Jewish blessings over the Sabbath candles. Hedy Weiss, the critic for the Chicago Sun-Times, objected to this moment of "ecumenical 'equal time' as unnecessary and intrusive".32 Given Gaines's concept for the play, it could also be read as a mosaic illustrating convivencia, the term historians use for the short- lived period of peaceful coexistence of Muslims, Christians, and Jews in parts of medieval Spain, a vision of a world in which differences could be respected and Others accepted without hatred or demonization. Working in the shadow cast by the events of 9/11, Gaines's intention, as she later explained it, was for this moment to symbolize the world as it should be.33 In short, the tendency on the modern stage has been to avoid Victorian- style pictorialism, rather suggesting by the economical use of stage properties, as well as by the use of music and stage business, that the action onstage is to be understood by the audience as taking place in Jewish space, usually Jewish domestic space. Silent Films Odd as it may seem for a playwright celebrated for his verbal brilliance, Shakespeare's plays were quite often adapted for the silent screen. In those 31 Terry Teachout, "Above and Beyond", Wall Street Journal, 3 Sept. 2005. 32 Hedy Weiss, "Anti-Semitism, Chick-Lit Bite in This 'Merchant ofVenice'", Chicago Sun- Times, 12 Sept. 2005. 33 Shapiro, "Two Merchants", 237.</page><page sequence="12">30 MICHAEL SHAPIRO films, scenes involving Shylock were generally filmed outdoors (in natural sunlight) in front of what appears to be Shylock's house. In Thanhouser's 1912 film, a shot of the interior of Shylock's house apparently included a room containing "Shylock's iron chest of an ancient design", suggesting a place of business more than a domestic space.34 As no mention is made of Jewish markers, one assumes that the chest is intended to suggest space belonging to a moneylender, perhaps even a miser, but it is not characterized as domestic space. In a 1910 or 1911 Italian silent film of the play, which partially survives, the third sequence is described as follows: "The scene is authentically in Venice, a canal with bridge in background and a street in front of Shylock's house down scene. Shylock comes out of his house down steps, and the matter of the loan is put before him by Antonio and Bassanio. There is a long sequence of talk which would be meaningless without the subtitle. They all go into the house. Cut to a room which they enter. Antonio and Shylock sit at a table." In the next sequence, "Shylock takes the document which Antonio has written at the table, goes to a chest through an arch at the rear, returns with a money bag which he puts on the table".35 Again, the only recorded feature within Shylock's house, aside from a table, is a chest in which he keeps his money, stressing once his occupation of moneylender or perhaps his miserliness but not his Jewishness. Sequence vi of this film shows Shylock's return to his house after Jessica's elopement, but this scene, for which Irving and Tree had the house constructed for their interpolated Verdian moment, is here mostly played in front of the house: "Shylock returns with someone, probably Tubal, who tells him something. Shylock discovers the keys dropped by the elopers, enters his house, returns distracted. People on the street laugh at him. He falls to the ground." The house, which this Shylock uses as a place to transact business, is only secondarily a locus of family intimacy for him as a Jewish father, but becomes nonetheless an empty shell after his daughter's elopement. Cinematic and televised productions In the late 1970s, the bbc initiated its six-year project of mounting a television production of every one of Shakespeare's plays. The Merchant 34 Robert Hamilton Ball, Shakespeare on Silent Film (New York: Theatre Arts Books, 1968), 146. 35 Ibid., 123. The next quotation comes from ibid., 124.</page><page sequence="13">Shylock's house 31 was aired in 1982. It was directed by Jack Gold, with Jonathan Miller, then executive producer, exercising considerable interpretive influence, and Warren Mitchell in the title role.36 The set designer was Oliver Bayldon. The production was filmed in the bbc studios and Shylock's house - seen only from the outside - was a two-storey residence with an outside staircase leading to the upper floor. It was in no way marked as Jewish space. Such designation was perhaps felt to be unnecessary, since Mitchell played Shylock almost as a caricature, with a heavy Yiddish or Eastern/ Middle European accent and intonations and gestures drawn from the same culture, and wore a long gown or kaftan and a yarmulka. Wherever he appeared was therefore marked, at least temporarily, as Jewish space, an effect that was doubled in his scene with Tubal (Arnold Diamond), a ruby-cheeked Hasidic Jew wearing a fur hat (streimal).37 Jonathan Miller had addressed the problem of Shylock's house more fully when he directed Olivier as Shylock in a production at the National Theatre in 1970, and in its adaptation for a television production, broadcast in 1973. Miller's set designer, Julia Trevelyan Oman, set the play in the late nineteenth century and made Shylock as elegantly dressed as the upper- class Venetians with whom he hobnobbed, and he was first seen dressed as a Victorian gentleman with a tall hat, and later donned white tie and tails for the dinner he was about to attend with Bassanio and Antonio. His house, as seen from the inside, seemed substantial and opulent. The domestic scenes involving Jessica take place in a space adorned with columns, ornate staircases, elegant statuary, and stained glass, and perhaps a life-size statue of a Jew wrapped in a prayer shawl. Shylock is clearly a man of means. In the scene after Jessica has eloped, Shylock appears before his door without a hat or coat or collar, in a vest but no suit coat, his lower shirtsleeves covered with some sort of black protective half-sleeve. After being taunted by two of the lesser Venetians, he seems in a momentary flash of insight to realize that Antonio's forfeiture of the loan provides him with the opportunity to avenge the loss and betrayal of Jessica. This insight leads directly to "Hath not a Jew . . after which he retreats to the interior of his house, barely stopping to touch the mezuzah affixed to the doorpost. When the elegantly dressed Tubal joins the scene a moment later, before entering the house, he stops and kisses his fingertips before 36 Bulman, Merchant ojVenice, 102. 37 Ibid., 101-6.</page><page sequence="14">32 MICHAEL SHAPIRO touching the mezuzah, a more conscious religious act than Shylock's brusque or habitual gesture. Shylock and Tubal meet in what seems to be Shylock's office or study. It is not a spare, undecorated moneylender's shop but rather boasted wood-panelling, a tasteful carpet, glass-fronted bookcases and cabinets, a number of statues, a large desk, and two framed and glass-covered photographs (one of Jessica, which he smashes, and one presumably of Leah, his dead wife). The general impression is that of tastefully restrained opulence. The only Jewish marker in the room is a menorah, lurking in the shadows and glimpsed only in passing when the camera pans or pulls back. But the room is suddenly redefined as Jewish space when Shylock moves to the desk, extracts a prayer shawl from the drawer, blesses and kisses it, and then proceeds to drape it round his head and upper body. The motive for this ritual action is ambiguous. Shylock, much to Tubal's consternation, is now committed to collecting his pound of flesh and, to ensure that his debtor will be on hand for the reckoning, he urges Tubal to "Fee me an officer", that is, to hire a jailer to bring Antonio, in chains, to the appointed place for the trial. Shylock's next request is that Tubal meet him "at our synagogue", a request which is reiterated perhaps because of Tubal's reluctance to associate himself with Shylock's revenge and perhaps, above all, with Shylock's sudden piety, a piety whereby Shylock, by transforming his opulent but faintly Jewish study into a place of Jewish ritual observance, seems to be cloaking his vengeful impulse as some sort of sacred Jewish obligation.38 Jewish space is treated differently in Trevor Nunn's television production, which was broadcast under the auspices of Masterpiece Theatre in 2001. Like Miller's television production, it was adapted from Nunn's stage production, which ran at the National Theatre in 1999-2000. The "production designer" (I assume for both the stage version and the television adaptation) was Hildegard Bechtler. For both productions, Nunn cast Henry Goodman, a Jewish actor, as Shylock. The televised version establishes Shylock's home as a Jewish space though familiar stage techniques involving music, properties and action, rather than through the use of architectural or pictorial details. Shylock's house is glimpsed from the outside - the entrance is a door adjacent to a shuttered shopfront, above which are windows of an apartment. We also see the interior, a scene 38 Ibid., 75-100.</page><page sequence="15">Shylock's house 33 which begins with strains of Jewish music as we see Shylock standing on a chair or stepladder cleaning the globe of a hanging lamp. Jessica (Gabrielle Jourdan) enters and they speak in Yiddish. She presents a pot for his inspection, he tells her that it is not as clean as it should be and she replies that she cannot do any better. He seems to scold her, invoking the high standards set by her mother (presumably deceased), and she retreats sullenly. We then see them standing beside a table on which there are two lit candles flanking a photograph (presumably of Leah). Together they sing a song in Hebrew, which he seems to be teaching her. The song is "Eshet Chayil" ("A Woman ofValour"; Proverbs 30), traditionally sung by the man of the house after the woman of the house lights the Shabbat candles on Friday evening. First Shylock sings, then Jessica sings, as if he is teaching her the song, and then they sing itas a duet. He strokes her hair, as if to bless her, but the mood soon darkens when Shylock, hearing from Launcelot Gobbo (Andrew French) that there will be masquers passing before the house in the street later that night, sternly orders Jessica to avoid any contact with them and slaps her as a warning. Again, the tranquillity of Jewish domestic space is shattered by the threat of contact with Christians, although what Shylock does not know is that his daughter is at that very moment planning to elope with Lorenzo, both disguised as masquers. To conclude the play on a note of remorseful irony, Nunn has Jessica sing the same song at the end, this time tinged with full consciousness of her responsibility for what has happened to her father and of her failure to be fully accepted into Christian society.39 The song evokes her family home, probably the memory of her dead mother rather than the harshness of her father, and thereby imaginatively reconstructs the Jewish space from which she has escaped (or perhaps banished herself) and will never see again. Michael Redford's 2004 film was set in 1596 and shot on location in Venice. Shylock was played by Al Pacino, but this production was quite different from the modern-dress stage version starring Pacino and directed by Daniel Sullivan in 2010 in New York City, where it first ran in Central Park and subsequently on Broadway. In Radford's film, Pacino played Shylock as an early modern Italian Jew, living in a place and time as yet untouched by the Enlightenment, which offered some Jews an entry 39 Rivka Jacobson, "On Jews, Shylock, and Tevya", otherresources/interviews/HenryGoodman2.htm (accessed 5 June 2014).</page><page sequence="16">34 MICHAEL SHAPIRO into wealth and sophistication and some degree of assimilation. Pacino's Shylock lived in the Ghetto, in nondescript squalor quite different from Olivier's palatial refinement. The negotiations for the loan begin on the Rialto but are concluded in what seems to be Shylock's business office. It is a shabby, sparely furnished room; a table, on which stands a quiver of quill pens, is littered with legal documents associated with Shylock's moneylending business, more of which are crammed into shelves on the walls. There is no indication of Jewishness in this space, although the residential parts of the house contain two unlit candles and a menorah. In the elopement scene, we see the house from the outside. Jessica appears at an upper window, and Lorenzo scales the side of the house to climb into her chamber, now filmed from the inside. After Jessica has eloped, Pacino, like Irving, returns to the dark house. He unlocks the door and enters, like Tree, calling for Jessica as he goes through the house. After a jump-cut to Bassanio setting forth by ship to Belmont, the film returns to the house to focus on Shylock, weeping and whimpering in his dark house as he fondles what seems to be a richly textured arras or bolt of cloth. Our next glimpse of Shylock finds him walking distractedly through the rain, a vision narrated in voice-over by one of the minor Venetian characters: "I never heard a passion so confused . . ." (2.8.I2ff). In addition to showing the viewer Shylock's house, the site both of his moneylending business and of his mourning for Jessica, Redford's film includes a third example of Jewish space - the synagogue. During the elaborate induction, which includes a friar and a mob persecuting a usurer and a shot of Jewish sacred books, probably Talmuds, in flames, there is a scene filmed in one ofVenice's surviving synagogues ofaTorah procession during a service. The congregation is animated, united in expressing their celebration of the Law, and the scene is lit with a warm reddish glow, as the Jews make their way out of the building, presumably to return to their homes. This Jewish space is a communal sanctuary, a place where this harassed and reviled community can observe its traditions despite the hostility they encounter in the streets and marketplaces. But at the end of the play, after the reunions in Belmont, Shylock is still wandering distractedly through Venice and is seen outside in the dark from inside the illuminated synagogue. As he approaches, presumably to enter, the doors are shut and barred to prevent his entry. Having brought trouble and shame and danger to the community, as well as having become, or promised to become, a Christian, he is persona non grata to his fellow Jews, and hence</page><page sequence="17">Shylock's house 35 forbidden to enter the Jewish space that serves as the community's site of collective solace and reaffirmation of its traditional Jewish identity. Conclusion Over the course of several centuries, productions of The Merchant of Ve nice have tended to provide Shylock with an interior space that represents his home, sometimes combined with his workplace. Some productions marked Shylock's home, where he lives with Jessica, with such Jewish markers as yarmulkas, mezuzahs, tallises, and menorahs, but the most common markers of Jewish space are enactments of Jewish religious rituals, such as lighting and blessing Shabbat candles, often combined with "Jewish" music and song, especially in places when general audiences have some familiarity with Jews and Jewish practices. When Shylock's home is lightly or barely marked as Jewish space, spectators are encouraged to believe that Shylock is more or less assimilated into Venetian society, a belief that can be supported or contradicted, as the director chooses, by his costume, gesture, and speech patterns. Finally, providing Shylock with a home can heighten sympathy for the character, especially when that space is threatened, violated, or desecrated by the Christians of the play. Coda Marking Jewish space with music can sometimes be tricky. I was once invited to attend a production of The Merchant in a part of the United States which has a very small Jewish population. The director wanted to suggest that Shylock's house was not only Jewish space but also a house of mourning. She had once seen an exhibition of Italian Jewish furniture and was especially struck by a tall, free-standing mirror set in a carved wooden frame. To introduce the first scene in Shylock's house, she had stagehands carry such a mirror onstage and proceed to drape a large cloth over it, in keeping with the Ashkenazic custom she had read or heard about of covering mirrors in a household where a death had recently occurred. She also wanted appropriate music, but what was piped in from offstage, and which seemed rather incongruous to my wife and me, though perhaps to no one else in the audience, was a version of the Friday evening kiddush. When I pointed out this incongruity to the director after the show, she asked me to repeat my observation to the man responsible for music and sound, who then showed me the CD of Jewish liturgical music from which he had borrowed the music. There, on adjacent bands,</page><page sequence="18">36 MICHAEL SHAPIRO were kiddush and kaddish. Unfamilar with the culture and confused by the similarity in sound of these two terms, he had used the wrong one. The director ordered to him to correct the error, and no doubt he did, though I fear it made little or no difference to the vast majority of spectators in that part of the country, who simply read the moment as an exotic ritual of some sort accompanied by equally exotic music.</page></plain_text>

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