Shylock, Friends and Foes: Antisemitism and Philosemitism in England
Out of Avraham Oz's recent production/adaptation of Shakespeare's The Merchant of Venice at the Alfa Theatre of Performing Arts, Tel Aviv (2016) came this talk about the origins of Shylock in Britain, both the pioneering land of expulsion of Jews and blood libels against them, and of admiration for, and adherence of Jewish history, language and thought to the point of the British regarding themselves as the spiritual decendants of ancient Israelites. The talk, introducing the first emigration of Jews into England with William of Normandy ("The Conqueror"), their expulsion from England two centuries later, the myths and archetypal imges of them during their 350 years of absence from the British Isles, and their ambiguous reception upon their return. What is Machiaveli doing in a British play about Barabas, the Jew of Malta? How come the model tragic hero of 17th century England is Samson, eyeless in Gaza? And what is the Robles precedent, helping to preserve the Jewish presence in England? All this are to be answered in a fascinating, entertaining and well informed talk.
Professor Avraham Oz is an internationally renowned expert on Shakespeare and Marlowe; formerly Head of the Theatre Department at Tel Aviv University and founding Head of the Department of Theatre at the University of Haifa, co-artistic director of the Cameri Theatre of Tel Aviv and chief dramaturgue of the Haifa Theatre; Visiting Professor in England and USA; Editor of scholarly journal and cultural programs on Radio and TV; Translator of plays and operas by Shakespeare, Brecht, Pinter and others, and a resident director at the Alfa Theatre of Performing Arts, Tel Aviv, where he directed plays by Shakespeare, Pinter, C. P. Taylor and now working on his own play, Magnificent Mountain, on the first Jewish immigration to Palestine at the late 19th century.