Shylock’47 was a Hebrew-language stage production presented by the Pargod Theatre in New York in 1947. Conceived and directed by Peter Frye, it was a metatheatrical play-within-a-play that interrogated the idea of producing The Merchant of Venice in the aftermath of the Holocaust. It combined original scenes culled from Shimon Halkin’s Hebrew translation of Merchant with present-based transitional scenes, created mostly through improvisation and discussion between director and cast. What eventually emerged was a script based on Shakespeare’s text with added dramatized discussions about the play’s meaning and relevance to Jews at that particular moment in history.
Edna Nahshon is Professor of Theater at the Jewish Theological Seminary. Her specialty is the intersection of Jewishness, theatre and performance.