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Titus and Coriolanus in Tehran

Shakespeare's Roman Plays and Iran's Politics

Mohammadreza Hassanzadeh Javanian


Adaptations of Shakespeare's Roman plays have frequently addressed political topics at the time of their production. As a result, Shakespeare's Rome, already a site of political conflict and power struggle, has found different and at times opposing significations in its new contexts. The present study is set to explore how two recent adaptations of the Roman plays in Iran, There Will Be Blood (2019, based on Titus Andronicus) and Coriolanus (2019 and 2020), have situated Shakespeare's texts in Iran's contemporary political context. The study argues that Shakespeare's Roman plays have created a platform for Iranian theatre directors to address the political issues and debates in Iran, a country in which it is extremely difficult to produce a political play. Jürgen Habermas's idea of legitimation crisis and Ernesto Laclau's concept of the empty signifier underpin the analysis of the adaptations.