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The most infamous Shakespeare Production in History ? The Merchant of Venice at Vienna’s Burgtheater in 1943

frPublié en ligne le 11 mai 2015

Par Ludwig SCHNAUDER

Abstract

One of the most notorious productions in the history of Shakespeare on the German‑speaking stage is The Merchant of Venice at Vienna’s Burgtheater in 1943. This production has become iconic in a negative sense as the most glaring example of how Shakespeare can be misused for insidious propaganda purposes. Whenever debates erupted in the post‑war era over whether The Merchant should be performed on a German‑speaking stage once again or not, those against invariably cited the 1943 production to bolster their arguments. This paper attempts to throw a critical light on some of the myths and clichés that have accrued around this production, for instance regarding theatrical life in the Third Reich or the position of The Merchant of Venice on the Nazi stage. Of specific interest is the question where the professed infamy of the 1943 production should be located : on the level of the performance text, the directorial approach, the impersonation of the actors, the reception, or the historical context. The essay also takes a look at some of the people involved in this production, such as the director Lothar Müthel, the Third Reich’s star actor Werner Krauß, and the Nazi governor of Vienna, Baldur von Schirach.

1Manfred Pfister refers to the performance history of The Merchant of Venice as « a history of the transformations of the representation of Shylock which is itself part of the history (of suffering) of European Jews since the Renaissance1 ». With regard to the German‑speaking context, the theatre director and scholar Elmar Goerden calls Shylock’s theatrical manifestations a « litmus test for the state of German‑Jewish relations, his stage history therefore a theatrical commentary on the history of the Jews in Germany2 ». That the relationship between The Merchant of Venice and the historical context(s) of its performances is more precarious than in the case of other Shakespearian plays has been thrown into sharpest relief by the Holocaust and the staging of the drama during the Third Reich. One of the most notorious examples of the latter is Lothar Müthel’s production at Vienna’s Burgtheater in 1943, featuring Werner Krauß in the role of Shylock. This Merchant has become iconic in a negative sense as the most glaring example of how a Shakespeare play can be « hijacked » or, as it were, « cannibalised » for insidious propaganda purposes. In what follows I would like to probe some of the myths and clichés that have accrued around this production and look at which elements have contributed to making it so infamous. Is its notoriety, for instance, due to the adapted performance text used, the representation of Shylock, the directorial concept or the historical circumstances of the performance ? In order to answer these questions it is necessary to give a brief overview of the role of the theatre in the Third Reich and the position of Shakespeare and The Merchant of Venice on the Nazi stage.

I. The Theatre in the Third Reich

2The Third Reich, needless to say, was a totalitarian dictatorship. From the Nazi takeover in 1933 onwards, all opposition was outlawed and crushed. The Nazi party tried to control all areas of society including the cultural realm, which was more often than not reduced to purveying the regime’s propaganda. Theatres, too, were subject to state control. During the first weeks of terror following the Nazis’ seizure of power, hard‑line party members frequently took over the running of the theatres. Undesirable directors and actors were immediately sacked, fled the country or were persecuted and imprisoned. However, as the new self‑appointed heads of the theatres often proved incompetent, they were sooner or later replaced by more experienced theatre managers who – even though not necessarily die‑hard Nazis – were at least friendly to the regime. This also happened at Austria’s (former) national theatre, Vienna’s Burgtheater, after the country had been incorporated into the Third Reich in 1938.

3Even though there were many attempts to exert control on the theatres by party officials, the stages in the Third Reich managed to retain a certain measure of independence. The fanciful comparison of theatres in Nazi Germany to « islands in a brown sea » is, however, an exaggeration and a result of post‑war wishful thinking. One of the reasons for the theatres’ comparative autonomy was that they were regarded as « showcases of German culture rather than mere propaganda tools3 ». Therefore the degree to which the theatres conformed to and implemented Nazi ideology often depended on the attitude of the individual artistic directors rather than state pressure. Nevertheless, the theatres were not free to put on whatever they wanted. The most important authority regarding the stage in Nazi Germany was the so‑called Reichsdramaturgie, an office that was part of Joseph Goebbels’s Ministry of Propaganda. The Reichsdramaturg, Rainer Schlösser, was therefore the « chief theatre censor for the duration of the Third Reich4 ». In addition, he also functioned as a kind of « animator5 », objecting to the performance of some plays and encouraging others. Besides watching over the repertoires of individual theatres, the Reichsdramaturg also assessed the « stage worthiness » of plays according to Nazi criteria. In this way he would not only have evaluated contemporary drama but also the classics, including Shakespeare. As John London has pointed out, despite attempts at so‑called Gleichschaltung – that is, strictest coordination or forcing into line –, « actual government policy on theatre was not « coordinated » enough for it to be entirely coherent6 ». This was not least due to the fact that the policies of the Reichsdramaturgie were rivalled and sometimes undermined by other administrative units and/or powerful individuals with an interest in the theatre, for instance the so‑called Dienststelle Rosenberg, Hermann Göring, regional governors, or even Hitler himself.

II. Shakespeare and the Nazis

4Shakespeare’s status in the Third Reich rivalled that of German playwrights. The British dramatist was second only to Friedrich Schiller as regards performance numbers, and there were theatre seasons in the early years of the Third Reich when Shakespeare could lay claim to being the most frequently performed playwright. Although Shakespeare productions waned during the war years, his plays nevertheless remained « a constant presence in German theatres [and became] emblematic of all non‑German culture under Nazism7 ».

5As is well known, Germany’s love affair with Shakespeare dates back to the late 18th and early 19th centuries when his plays were enthusiastically received by the writers of Sturm und Drang, such as Goethe and Schiller. The first wave of the German appropriation of Shakespeare reached a highpoint in the translation of his plays by A. W. Schlegel and Ludwig Tieck, which became one of the founding texts of German national literature. In the course of the 19th century Shakespeare was beginning to be considered as « the third German classic », next to Goethe and Schiller. In the run‑up to the First World War Shakespeare was aggressively enlisted for nationalist purposes, for instance by the scholar Friedrich Gundolf in his 1911 study Shakespeare und der deutsche Geist (Shakespeare and the German Spirit),in which he argued that there was a special affinity between the British dramatist and German culture. Even though Gundolf was Jewish, this was a line of argument on which the Nazis were only too happy to build later on by adding a racial element. Thus they emphasised Shakespeare’s supposedly Germanic or Nordic character and reinterpreted the plays accordingly : Macbeth, for instance,was turned into a Nordic ballad of fate and Hamlet into a muscular Nordic hero. Nazi scholars were at pains to show that Shakespeare was virtually German because he used Germanic sources and because his plays had an illustrious performance history on the German‑speaking stage. It was due to these kinds of argument that even after the outbreak of the Second World War Shakespeare was not considered an « enemy dramatist » whose plays needed to be banned.

6During the course of the war, however, Shakespeare’s position became more tenuous. Doubts were voiced whether the dramatist, given his origins, should be performed at all. After March 1941 all productions of Shakespeare’s plays had to be authorised by the Reichsdramaturgie and, temporarily, for about half a year, the playwright was banned outright8. Although Shakespeare returned to the German stage, certain plays were branded as undesirable and were no longer performed : the histories, Othello, Antony and Cleopatra or Troilus and Cressida9. Shakespeare’s comedies, on the other hand, were regarded as unproblematic and as mere entertainment and were therefore performed throughout the Nazi period. A special case was The Merchant of Venice.

III. The Merchant of Venice on the Nazi Stage

7One could be forgiven for believing that due to its anti‑Semitic potential The Merchant of Venice would have been the Nazis’ favourite Shakespeare play and that productions would have been encouraged by the authorities. Recent studies by Wilhelm Hortmann, Werner Habicht, Thomas Eicher, Andrew Bonnell or Zeno Ackermann have, however, shown that the relationship between The Merchant of Venice and Nazi ideology was far from being that straightforward10. In the wake of the Nazi takeover, performance numbers of The Merchant actually declined. According to Hortmann, « [w]hereas previously [the play] had averaged twenty to thirty productions every year with about two hundred performances, after 1933 the average dropped to less than a third11 ». Thomas Eicher adds that the play was, in fact, only put on two or three times per season during the Nazi era12. The reasons for this reluctance are complex.

8Hortmann speculates that with regard to The Merchant of Venice there « was a double insecurity [on the part of the theatres], first whether the Jewish subject would be acceptable to the authorities and, more pertinently, how to perform it : as a Stürmer caricature13, which many directors considered tasteless, or in a pro‑Shylock sense, which would have been suicidal14 ». If the play was performed during the Nazi era, Hortmann asserts, « directors either performed the play as a pure comedy suppressing, as far as possible, all tragic and contemporary references, or they openly declared their Nazi convictions by pointedly racist renderings15 ». Whether it could have been possible to stage The Merchant during the Third Reich « as a pure comedy » without any anti‑Semitic implications seems doubtful. In this respect, Werner Habicht’s claim that « the fifty or so productions […] recorded in Germany between 1933 and 1944 invariably exhibited anti‑semitic and racist interpretations of Shylock» is more plausible16.

9The position of the authorities towards the play was ambiguous. Surprising as it may appear, Nazi officials regarded the stage as « an inappropriate venue for blatant antisemitic propaganda » as opposed to Nazi ideology in general17. Thomas Eicher mentions the case of a contemporary play whose performance was expressly forbidden by the Reichsdramaturgie in 1934 for reasons of its explicit anti‑Semitic content18. In 1937 Goebbels issued a decree « prohibiting positive or negative references in theatres to politics, the state, religion, the police and the army19 ». For these reasons, the stage was probably less often misused to convey anti‑Semitic propaganda than might be assumed. Despite all this, the Reichsdramaturgie went to great lengths to make The Merchant of Venice suitable for Nazi productions. The biggest problem to be overcome as regards the play’s content was the relationship and eventual marriage between Jessica, Shylock’s daughter, and Lorenzo, an Aryan Christian. Under Nazi race laws such a union would have constituted the crime of Rassenschande (« shaming the Aryan race ») and could not have been shown on stage. In 1939 the Reichsdramaturgie, therefore, came up with an adapted and censored version of the play in which Jessica is turned into Shylock’s foster child and all references to her Jewishness are cut20. Furthermore, all passages are deleted which could throw a positive light on Shylock or evoke sympathy for his situation, for instance his famous monologue from act 3, scene 1, « Hath not a Jew eyes ». To tamper or interfere with a text in such a substantial way was not unproblematic, because it militated against the Nazis’ own aesthetic doctrine of Werktreue or « faithfulness to the text ». Possibly for this reason, the Reichsdramaturgie did not particularly push this version of the play and no general revival of the Merchant on the stages of the Third Reich occurred.

IV. The Merchant of Venice at Vienna’s Burgtheater in 1943

10When theatres did put on The Merchant of Venice as an anti‑Semitic propaganda play, this seems to have been largely on « their own initiative, sometimes on the initiative of particularly zealous Nazi appointees in the theatres21 ». This holds true for the production at Vienna’s Burgtheater in 1943, which is connected with two men in particular, the director Lothar Müthel and the actor Werner Krauß.

11Lothar Müthel had risen to artistic fame as a director at the Berlin state theatre and had, among others, been responsible for the well‑known 1936 production of Hamlet with Gustav Gründgens in the lead role. Müthel was a staunch and outspoken supporter of the Nazi party, which he had already joined before 1933. After Austria’s annexation, Joseph Goebbels appointed Müthel as head of Vienna’s Burgtheater, one of the most prestigious and oldest German‑speaking theatres, famed in particular for its ensemble of star actors. Despite his Nazi credentials, Müthel would steer a relatively moderate course in his choice of repertoire at the Burgtheater, mainly putting on classics, including Shakespeare, light comedies and a small percentage of Nazi plays. The propagandistic staging of The Merchant of Venice in 1943 can therefore be considered an exception rather than the rule. That the production would be ideologically charged was signalled in particular by Müthel’s choice of Werner Krauß as Shylock.

12Krauß had started his career under Max Reinhardt in Berlin and had even impersonated Shylock in a Reinhardt production there in 1921 (see below). After the Nazi takeover, he allowed himself to be monopolised by the regime and became one of the Third Reich’s most celebrated actors. In 1940 he stooped to play all minor Jewish roles in Veit Harlan’s grossly anti‑Semitic propaganda movie, Jud Süß (Jew Süß), which the Nazis promoted relentlessly. Müthel’s choice of Krauß assured the production national attention and led audiences to expect that the actor would impersonate Shylock in a similar way to the Jewish characters in Jud Süß. After the war, both Müthel and Krauß would claim that in putting on The Merchant they had acted under direct orders from Baldur von Schirach, the Reichsstatthalter or Nazi‑governor of Vienna. Whether this is true or not could not, as yet, be verified. Wilhelm Hortmann speculates that as « [p]arty members [and] absolute stars in their respective crafts […] [Müthel and Krauss] probably relished the idea of letting rip in a thorough shocker away from Berlin’s critical audience22 ». There are, however, also indications that Schirach might indeed have initiated the production. He had a special interest in the theatre in general and Shakespeare in particular and saw it as his task to raise Vienna’s profile as a cultural capital in comparison to Berlin. As Schirach had angered Hitler due to his relatively liberal cultural policies in Vienna, a high‑profile production of The Merchant of Venice could have been seen as a gesture of good will or even submission. One should add that Schirach’s responsibilities as governor did not only include the management of cultural affairs but also the deportation of Vienna’s Jews. Should he have directly supported or ordered The Merchant to be put on at the Burgtheater, the production could be understood as an expression of the cynical, sadistic logic that often informed Nazi policies.

13Considering the production’s reputation as one of the worst abuses ever of a Shakespeare play for ideological purposes, it might come as a surprise that the performance script deviated in only a few instances from the original. A comparison between the Reichsdramaturgie’s version discussed earlier and the 1943 prompt book shows that Lothar Müthel only incorporated seven of the eighteen changes suggested. Most significantly, Müthel retained Shylock’s monologue « Hath not a Jew eyes ». That he did so in order to evoke sympathy for the moneylender can, however, be ruled out due to Werner Krauß’s take on the role. Where Müthel did follow the Reichsdramaturgie’s adaptation was in deleting all references to Jessica’s Jewishness and in hinting that she might not be Shylock’s natural daughter. However, he did not go so far as to explicitly turn Jessica into Shylock’s foster child. As recommended by the Reichsdramaturgie, Müthel cut Antonio’s request at the end of the trial scene that Shylock be baptised. After all, according to Nazi ideology, Shylock’s « problem » is not his religion but his ethnicity, and for this reason conversion to Christianity would not change anything.

14Two days before the premiere on 15 May 1943, Müthel published an article in a local newspaper, the Neues Wiener Tagblatt, in which he explained his directorial concept. Clearly, the purpose of this piece was to put up a smoke screen to hide the true intentions of the production and to pretend that Müthel’s « interpretation » of the play was legitimate and based on serious research. Thus Müthel, for instance, refers to various German scholars to substantiate his assertion that The Merchant of Venice is a pure comedy and Shylock a stereotypical comic villain. In the director’s view, Shylock is a « cunning, dangerous, noxious simpleton, who is ridiculed », an « insidious fool and mischievous idiot who is done away with23 ». Müthel further claims that he is just taking up an interpretative tradition that had been side‑lined by Jewish influence, in particular Heinrich Heine’s influential reading of the play as Shylock’s tragedy24. The star actor Werner Krauß fulfilled Müthel’s conception of Shylock to the letter. In his unreliable and self‑flattering autobiography, Das Schauspiel meines Lebens (The Spectacle of my Life), Krauß confirms that Müthel told him to play Shylock as a « comedian » in the reputed style of the revered late 18th‑century German actor, theatre manager and playwright, August Wilhelm Iffland25. Krauß therefore decided to portray the character as « rather stupid and seemingly cunning26 ». He adds that it was this aspect of his impersonation « which the Jews would later [that is, after the Second World War] hold against me more than anything else27 ». His line of defence is that he played the role similarly in Berlin in 1921 under Max Reinhardt, who apparently did not object to it. Theatre historians are still debating whether this claim is just a brazen attempt to excuse Krauß’s anti‑Semitic portrayal of Shylock in 1943 or whether there might be a grain of truth in it. Reviews of the two productions seem to indicate that Krauß’s 1921 Shylock was not merely comic but also conveyed demonic power and pathos, while in 1943 he portrayed the figure as a contemptible clown, inviting ridicule and scorn on the part of the audience. Whatever the case, there is no doubt that there is a world of difference between playing Shylock as a comic figure in the democratic context of the Weimar Republic in 1921 and that of a racist, totalitarian dictatorship twenty‑two years later, in a city where the deportation of the Jews to the extermination camps in the East was at its height.

15Production photographs of Krauß’s Shylock and lengthy descriptions in the reviews underline the anti‑Semitic intent that informed the actor’s impersonation. Krauß sported red hair and a red beard, wore a kippah and a frayed, yellow prayer‑scarf, a dirty, greasy caftan and long, flat shoes in which it would have been impossible to walk properly. He looked like one of the vicious caricatures of orthodox Eastern European Jews that could be found in Nazi newspapers or propaganda movies at that time.

V. Reception and Aftermath

16All art reviews written during the Third Reich have to be treated with caution. Already in 1936 Joseph Goebbels had practically outlawed traditional reviewing as an « expression of the Jewish subversion of the arts » and « individualist arbitrariness28 ». Instead he favoured what he termed Kunstbetrachtung (« contemplation of art »), by which he meant a non‑judgmental, supportive description of, or comment on, a work of art29. From then on, a negative or only critical review of an artwork favoured by Nazi ideology could be considered as an attack on the state and its cultural policies and could have serious consequences for the journalist. The sheer number of « reviews » of the 1943 Merchant that are kept in the Burgtheater’s archives indicates the importance of the production to the authorities. They made sure that reports and photos of Werner Krauß as Shylock appeared not only in the more provincial newspapers of the Reich but also in those published in occupied territories and cities, such as Belgrade, Amsterdam, Prague, Brussels, or Cracow. The content of the reviews and the style in which they are written prove that it was clear to the writers that they were dealing with a high‑profile propaganda production perfectly suited to the regime’s purposes. Although many of the reviewers claim perfunctorily that the production’s primary merit is to have finally re‑established Antonio as the true protagonist of the play, they in fact exclusively concentrate on Krauß’s Shylock. In their descriptions they go to great lengths to conjure up in almost ritualistic fashion every detail of what Markus Moninger has termed « anti‑Semitic iconography30 ». They try to convey as drastically as possible the disgust and repulsion that they feel towards the Jewish « other ». It is difficult to determine how far these critics attempted to draw a truthful, « realistic » portrait of how Krauß actually impersonated the role or how far they merely expressed what they thought the regime would like them to see and describe. The Austrian reviewer, Oskar Maurus Fontana, for instance, wrote :

[Krauß’s Shylock believes that he is looking clever but, in fact, it is just barefaced silliness squinting through his half‑closed eyes. On outward‑turned flat feet he waddles along. However, when his business, his money or his bond are concerned, he falls into a pattering, hurried run on bendy legs. His speech is full of guttural sounds ; he shifts his vowels and again and again breaks out into animal‑like screeches, grunts and hisses. […] He treats his daughter like a bag of rags. He neither has feelings for his family nor for his religion ; he is only lowliness, ugliness, and stupidity. When he hears about Antonio’s ruin, he dances joyfully with Tubal in a circle. In front of the court he takes off his boot in order to whet his knife on it. At the end he leaves the courtroom like a coward with stomach ache. […] A cutting laughter sweeps away the Jewish figure of contempt31.

17Most reviews emphasise that Krauß’s Shylock is a character that need not be taken seriously, that can be laughed at and made fun of with impunity and that, indeed, deserves this kind of treatment. Thereby the reviewers reveal what Jörg Monschau has called the « propagandistic‑pedagogic intention » of the production, namely to show that the Jew no longer constitutes a threat to Aryan society32. Whereas in the 1940 propaganda films Jud Süß and Der Ewige Jude (The Eternal Jew)the message had been that Jews are dangerous and, if not prevented, might seize world‑power, by 1943, at the height of the Holocaust, they could be represented as figures of fun that deserve our contempt and the fate that awaits them. It is probably in this particular aspect of the production that its true infamy should be located.

18Although Müthel’s Merchant drew national attention, it had a relatively short run of twenty‑five performances33. In his autobiography Werner Krauß has the cheek to claim that « because I played Shylock in a silly and cunning way, I was so pitied by the people, that the production was stopped by Schirach34 ». Termination due to moral outrage and the governor’s intervention is certainly Krauß’s post‑war invention. The reasons for the short run are probably more mundane. The last performance took place just before the summer break and the rapidly worsening material situation of the Burgtheater due to the encroaching war might simply have made a continuation of the production into the next season impossible. The regime would certainly have liked to exploit the propagandistic potential of The Merchant further. After the closure of all theatres in 1944, Goebbles agreed to a proposal by the film director Veit Harlan to turn Shakespeare’s play – againwith Krauß as Shylock – into a film35. The end of the war, however, put a stop to this project.

19Müthel’s Merchant of Venice would enter performance history as one of the most infamous examples of how a classic can be misused for ideological purposes. Whenever discussions arose in the post‑war era as to whether The Merchant of Venice could or should be performed on a German‑speaking stage, those against invariably referred to the 1943 production to bolster their arguments. Revealingly, it was not until 1967 that The Merchant of Venice was put on again at Vienna’s Burgtheater, this time in an explicitly philo‑Semitic version with the Jewish actor Ernst Deutsch as Shylock36.

Bibliographie

ACKERMANN, Zeno « Performing Oblivion/Enacting Remembrance : The Merchant of Venice in West Germany, 1945 to 1961 », Shakespeare Quarterly 62.3 (2011), p. 364‑395.

_______________ « Shakespearean Negotiations in the Perpetrator Society : German Productions of The Merchant of Venice during the Second World War », in Irena R. Makaryk and Marissa McHugh (eds.), Shakespeare and the Second World War, Toronto, University of Toronto Press, 2012, p. 35‑62.

BONNELL, Andrew G., Shylock in Germany : Antisemitism and the German Theatre from the Enlightenment to the Nazis, London, Tauris, 2008.

DREWNIAK, Boguslaw, Das Theater im NS‑Staat, Düsseldorf, Droste, 1983.

EICHER, Thomas, « Spielplanstrukturen 1929‑1944 », in Henning Rischbieter (ed.), Theater im « Dritten Reich » : Theaterpolitik, Spielplanstruktur, NS‑Dramatik, Seelze‑Velber, Kallmeyer, 2000, p. 285‑486.

FONTANA, Oskar Maurus, « Der Kaufmann von Venedig », Kölnische Zeitung, 28 May 1943.

GOERDEN, Elmar, « Der Andere : Fragmente einer Bühnengeschichte Shylocks im deutschen und englischen Theater des 18. und 19. Jahrhunderts », in Hans‑Peter Bayerdörfer (ed.), Theatralia Judaica (I) : Emanzipation und Antisemitismus als Momente der Theatergeschichte : Von der Lessing‑Zeit bis zur Shoah, Tübingen, Max Niemeyer, 1992, p. 129‑163.

HABICHT, Werner, « Shakespeare and theatre politics in the Third Reich », in Hanna Scolnikov and Peter Holland (ed.), The Play out of Context, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 1989, p. 110‑120.

HEINE, Heinrich, « Jessika » in Shakespeares Mädchen und Frauen, Pößneck, Melzer, 2006, p. 178‑195.

_______________ « Porzia », in Shakespeares Mädchen und Frauen, Pößneck, Melzer, 2006, p. 196‑204.

HORTMANN, Wilhelm, Shakespeare on the German Stage : The Twentieth Century, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 1998.

KRAUSZ, Werner, Das Schauspiel meines Lebens : Einem Freund erzählt, Hans Weigel (ed.), Stuttgart, Henry Goverts, 1958.

LONDON, John, Theatre under the Nazis,Manchester, Manchester University Press, 2000.

MONINGER, Markus, « Auschwitz erinnern : Merchant‑Inszenierungen im Nachkriegsdeutschland », in Christoph Balme (ed.), Das Theater der Anderen : Alterität und Theater zwischen Antike und Gegenwart, Tübingen, Franke, 2001, p. 229‑248.

MONSCHAU, Jörg, « Der Jude nach der Shoah : Zur Rezeption des Kaufmann von Venedig auf dem Theater der Bundesrepublik Deutschland und der Deutschen Demokratischen Republik 1945‑1989 », Diss., University of Heidelberg, 2003.

MÜTHEL, Lothar, « Zur Dramaturgie des Kaufmanns von Venedig », Neues Wiener Tagblatt,13 May 1943.

PFISTER, Manfred, « The Merchant of Venice », in Ina Schabert (ed.), Shakespeare‑ Handbuch, Stuttgart, Alfred Kröner, 2000, p. 411‑417.

SCHNAUDER, Ludwig, « ‘The poor man is wronged !’ Die Figur des Shylock in Inszenierungen am Burgtheater », in Ewald Mengel, Ludwig Schnauder and Rudolf Weiss (eds.), Weltbühne Wien/World Stage Vienna vol. 2 : Die Rezeption anglophoner Dramen auf Wiener Bühnen des 20. Jahrhunderts, Trier, WVT, 2010, p. 119‑147.

Notes

1  Manfred Pfister, « The Merchant of Venice », in Ina Schabert (ed.), Shakespeare‑Handbuch, Stuttgart, Alfred Kröner, 2000, p. 416. My translation.

2  Elmar Goerden, « Der Andere : Fragmente einer Bühnengeschichte Shylocks im deutschen und englischen Theater des 18. und 19. Jahrhunderts », in Hans‑Peter Bayerdörfer (ed.), Theatralia Judaica (I) : Emanzipation und Antisemitismus als Momente der Theatergeschichte : Von der Lessing‑Zeit bis zur Shoah, Tübingen, Max Niemeyer, 1992, p. 130. My translation.

3  Wilhelm Hortmann, Shakespeare on the German Stage : The Twentieth Century, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 1998, p. 115.

4  John London (ed.), « Introduction », in Theatre under the Nazis, Manchester, Manchester University Press, 2000, p. 10.

5  Wilhelm Hortmann, op. cit., p. 114.

6  John London, op. cit., p. 10.

7  Ibid., p. 239.

8  See Thomas Eicher, « Spielplanstrukturen 1929‑1944 », in Henning Rischbieter (ed.), Theater im « Dritten Reich » : Theaterpolitik, Spielplanstruktur, NS‑Dramatik, Seelze‑Velber : Kallmeyer, 2000, p. 300.

9  See Werner Habicht, « Shakespeare and theatre politics in the Third Reich », in Hanna Scolnikov and Peter Holland (ed.), The Play out of Context, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 1989, p. 117.

10  See bibliography.

11  Wilhelm Hortmann, op. cit., p. 134.

12  Thomas Eicher, op. cit., p. 309.

13  Julius Streicher’s weekly Der Stürmer (The Stormtrooper) was notorious for its ferocious anti‑Semitism and its vicious cartoons.

14  Wilhelm Hortmann, op. cit., p. 135.

15  Wilhelm Hortmann, op. cit., p. 135.

16  Werner Habicht, op. cit., p. 116.

17  Andrew G. Bonnell, Shylock in Germany : Antisemitism and the German Theatre from the Enlightenment to the Nazis, London, Tauris, 2008, p. 136.

18  See op. cit., p. 291‑192.

19  John London, op. cit., p. 23.

20  See Thomas Eicher, op. cit., p. 304‑308.

21  Andrew G. Bonnell, op. cit., p. 136.

22  Wilhelm Hortmann, op. cit., p. 136.

23  Lothar Müthel, « Zur Dramaturgie des Kaufmanns von Venedig », Neues Wiener Tagblatt, 13 May 1943. My translation.

24  See Heinrich Heine’s essays « Jessika » and « Porzia », in Shakespeares Mädchen und Frauen, Pößneck, Melzer, 2006, p. 178‑195 and p. 196‑204.

25  Incidentally, Müthel also refers to Iffland in his newspaper article in order to legitimise Krauß’s acting.

26  Werner Krauß, Das Schauspiel meines Lebens : Einem Freund erzählt, Hans Weigel (ed.), Stuttgart, Henry Goverts, 1958, p. 208. My translation.

27  Ibid.

28  Quoted in Boguslaw Drewniak, Das Theater im NS‑Staat, Düsseldorf, Droste, 1983, p. 35. My translation.

29  See Wilhelm Hortmann, op. cit., p. 119‑120.

30  Markus Moninger, « Auschwitz erinnern : Merchant‑Inszenierungen im Nachkriegsdeutschland », in Christoph Balme (ed.), Das Theater der Anderen : Alterität und Theater zwischen Antike und Gegenwart, Tübingen, Franke, 2001, p. 231. My translation.

31  Oskar Maurus Fontana, « Der Kaufmann von Venedig », Kölnische Zeitung, 28 May 1943. My translation.

32  Jörg Monschau, « Der Jude nach der Shoah : Zur Rezeption des Kaufmann von Venedig auf dem Theater der Bundesrepublik Deutschland und der Deutschen Demokratischen Republik 1945‑1989 », Diss., University of Heidelberg, 2003, p. 80. My translation.

33  In comparison to other Shakespeare productions at the Burgtheater during this period, the run of The Merchant was by no means exceptionally short.

34  Werner Krauß, op. cit., p. 208‑209. My translation.

35  See Andrew G. Bonnell, op. cit., p. 167‑169.

36  For an overview of this production see Ludwig Schnauder, « ‘The poor man is wronged !’ Die Figur des Shylock in Inszenierungen am Burgtheater », in Ewald Mengel, Ludwig Schnauder and Rudolf Weiss (eds.), Weltbühne Wien/World Stage Vienna vol. 2 : Die Rezeption anglophoner Dramen auf Wiener Bühnen des 20. Jahrhunderts, Trier, WVT, 2010, p. 119‑147. For the problematic of Merchant productions on the German post‑war stage see Zeno Ackermann, « Performing Oblivion/Enacting Remembrance : The Merchant of Venice in West Germany, 1945 to 1961 », Shakespeare Quarterly 62.3 (2011), p. 364‑395.

Pour citer cet article

Ludwig SCHNAUDER (2015). "The most infamous Shakespeare Production in History ? The Merchant of Venice at Vienna’s Burgtheater in 1943". Shakespeare en devenir - Les Cahiers de La Licorne - Shakespeare en devenir | N°9 - 2015.

[En ligne] Publié en ligne le 11 mai 2015.

URL : http://shakespeare.edel.univ-poitiers.fr/index.php?id=865

Consulté le 24/08/2017.

A propos des auteurs

Ludwig SCHNAUDER

Ludwig Schnauder is a postdoc lecturer and researcher at the English Department, University of Vienna, Austria. He gained his PhD from the University of Vienna in 2006 with a thesis on Joseph Conrad, which was published in revised form by Rodopi in 2008. From 2006 to 2010 he was one of the principal researchers in the Weltbühne Wien/World Stage Vienna research project funded by the Austrian Science Fund (FWF) and edited two volumes of essays on theories of cultural transfer and the reception of Anglophone plays on Viennese stages together with Ewald Mengel and Rudolf Weiss (WVT 2010). A follow‑up volume on Anglo‑German theatrical exchange will be published by Rodopi in early 2015. He is currently working on a monograph on the history of Shakespeare on the stage of Austria’s national theatre, the Burgtheater, in the 20th and 21st centuries with a special focus on The Merchant of Venice, Hamlet and Richard III.




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