Staging The Merchant of Venice in the 21ˢᵗ Century: A Dramaturgical Case Study
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“Staging The Merchant of Venice in the 21ˢᵗ Century: A Dramaturgical Case Study” aims to document the Heart of America Shakespeare Festival’s 2015 production of The Merchant of Venice by framing it within the historical narrative of the play’s place in Kansas City theatrical history. This thesis also seeks to further define the relationship between the production process and dramaturgy by examining the development and implementation of dramaturgical responsibilities as they related to audience engagement with The Merchant of Venice. Chapter 1 provides a brief overview of The Merchant of Venice and examines the progression of the play from comedy to anti-Semitic tragedy beginning in the late nineteenth century. This chapter also identifies the decades-long hiatus of The Merchant of Venice from Kansas City. Chapter 2 will explore this gap in Kansas City’s production history of The Merchant of Venice by looking at the two most recent productions of the play in 1950 and 1986 and introducing the initial conversation about bringing the play to Kansas City audiences in 2015. Chapter 3 then explains the nature of the production’s rehearsal process by exploring the role of dramaturgy in the rehearsal hall. Chapter 4 continues the discussion of dramaturgy’s involvement by looking at the role the dramaturg played in preparing audiences for the upcoming production. Chapter 5 analyzes the play’s success with engaging an audience in a dialogue about The Merchant of Venice, and points to the play’s importance in discussing the larger social issues of the Kansas City community.
Table of Contents
Introduction -- Historical overview -- Kansas City production history -- Production process -- Audience engagement -- Post-production analysis -- Conclusion -- Appendix A. 1950 program -- Appendix B. 1986 program -- Appendix C. Promotional materials -- Appendix D. Teaching guide -- Appendix E. Audience guide -- Appendix F. 2015 program essay -- Appendix G. HASF company bios -- Appendix H Company questionnaire