– in development –
The Merchant Project
coming in 2023
ABOUT THE SHOW
What can a play from sixteenth century England tell us about how antisemitism and other prejudicial beliefs operate in our world today? What perceived truths does a play reveal about the society in which it was created, and what ideas within that society does it reinforce?
In our next project, which, while it's in process, we're referring to as The Merchant Project, we take a new look at William Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice, weaving in our unique blend of deep historical investigation and heightened theatricality to create a new work from the core of the classic play. We’ll investigate questions related to the nature of "truth" as it exists both in the world and on the stage – as well as issues of identity, marginalization, assimilation, and power throughout history and in our modern world.
In the image, the text below the scrollwork is from the first quarto, published in 1600. In contemporary spelling, it reads:
"With the extreme cruelty of Shylock the Jew towards the said Merchant, in cutting a just pound of his flesh: and the obtaining of Portia by the choice of three chests.
As it hath been divers times acted by the Lord Chamberlain his servants."
in process events
Sunday, February 5, 2 pm at The Breman Museum in Atlanta, GA
The Breman Museum presents a special preview of The Merchant Project with theatre dybbuk
In this unique event, The Breman Museum will present the team from theatre dybbuk as they read selections from the company's still in-development The Merchant Project, a piece which explores Shakespeare's The Merchant of Venice. The new piece will have its world premiere in May 2023 and so, this will be an opportunity to get a glimpse into the work as it is being created and to learn about the process with the creative team behind it.
There will be a 60 minute reading of selections from the play followed by a 30 minute Q & A.
This event is free and open to all, but reservations are required.
This program is part of our 2023 Atlanta Residency and is supported in part by a grant from The Covenant Foundation.
The Villainy You Teach
March 2, 2023 | 7:00 PM
at the Philosophical Research Society in Los Feliz
The character of Shylock in Shakespeare's The Merchant of Venice has long been a source of debate. Some have argued that his is an antisemitic portrait with long-lasting effects on the perception of Jews in our world, while others have stated that the character is a nuanced portrayal that, especially given the time and place of his creation, is empathetic to his plight. Often, at the center of this debate is found a speech in which Shylock proclaims his humanity while defending his vengeful desires.
In The Villainy You Teach, theatre dybbuk explodes this famous speech and, through the use of heightened theatricality and repetition, investigates the ways in which language can both take on a wide variety of meanings and lose all meaning through persistent examination and exposure.
Performed within the library of the Philosophical Research Society, audience members are invited to witness an actor perform this brief speech repeatedly over the course of most of the length of the play, reciting it dozens, if not hundreds, of times. This action is accompanied by a simultaneous performed reading of Merchant in its entirety – its words acting as the container within which Shylock's speech exists.
Audience members can stay in the space for the duration of the performance or they can come and go, engaging with the event in the manner that they choose.
Refreshments will be available throughout the performance in the accompanying courtyard.
In person tickets are available on a sliding scale - $25-$35.
Attending in person is recommended, however the performance will also be available for remote viewing for $20.
other projects in development
Originally programmed to open in the summer of 2020, the pandemic delayed our completion of the project. We continued with development throughout the pandemic, and in lieu of a full production, the show will now have performed reading engagements accompanied by discussions.
ABOUT THE SHOW
Why do conspiracy theories arise and in what ways do they show up at times of great crisis and upheaval in society? And what are the motivations and forces underpinning their proliferation?
In breaking protocols, we examine the quintessential antisemitic text, "The Protocols of the Elders of Zion," while exploring contemporary issues connected to racism, propaganda, and false narratives.
As with all of theatre dybbuk's works, breaking protocols will be rich in poetic text, choreographed movement, and original music.
breaking protocols is a National Performance Network (NPN) Creation & Development Fund Project, co-commissioned by Los Angeles Contemporary Exhibitions and The Hive at Leichtag Commons.
Virtual events were presented in 2020 via Zoom in partnership with LACE (April 25), The Hive at Leichtag Commons (May 13), Oshman Family JCC Arts and Dialogues (June 18), and Musée du Montréal juif - Museum of Jewish Montreal (December 15) . All events included performed readings of in-process script selections and Q&As; the Hive, LACE, and Museum of Jewish Montreal events also included writing workshops exploring themes in the show.
The presentation with LACE was supported in part by a grant from the City of Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs.
THE IN-PROCESS PRESENTATION TEAM
Written and Directed by Aaron Henne
Assistant Director (LACE and Hive events): Tova Katz
Solly – Joe Jordan
Essie – Julie A. Lockhart
Ruthie – Diana Tanaka
breaking protocols background and history
So...What Is/Are "The Protocols of the Elders of Zion"?
Supposedly the record of secret meetings of Jewish leaders, "The Protocols" describes an alleged conspiracy to dominate the world. It has become a touchpoint and source of inspiration for antisemitic movements world-wide. The document – which has been proven fraudulent – does not indicate when or where the meetings took place, who attended, or its authorship.
An abbreviated version of "The Protocols" was first published in 1903 in the St. Petersburg newspaper Znamya (The Banner). The editor of Znamya, Pavel Krushevan, was an outspoken antisemite.
"The Protocols" were first published in full in 1905 as an appendix to the book The Great in the Small and the Antichrist as an Imminent Political Possibility by Sergei Nilus.
The Authorship Question
Steven J. Zipperstein in his book, Pogrom: Kishinev and the Tilt of History (2018), argues that Pavel Krushevan ("The Protocols" first publisher) is the probable author, either on his own or with others, of the fraudulent work. The antisemitic rhetoric that Krushevan published in his newspaper, Znamya, likely helped to fuel the Kishinev pogrom. Krushevan was also associated with the Black Hundreds, an ultra-nationalist movement in Russia in the early 20th century. The Black Hundreds opposed any retreat from the autocratic rule of the reigning monarch and was known to have used violence against those who were believed to be a threat to the Tsar.
Another theory – though one that is largely rejected in current scholarship – points the authorship of "The Protocols" to Matvei (a.k.a. Mathieu) Golovinski as a part of a monarchist scheme to persuade Tsar Nicholas II that the capitalist modernization of Russia was really a Jewish plot to control the world. Golovinski was said to be working in Paris under the direction of Pyotr Rachkovsky – the chief of the Russian imperial secret service (the Okhrana) who was based in Paris from 1884-1902.
Plagiarism within "The Protocols"
Sections of "The Protocols" were plagiarized from an earlier text by French attorney and political writer Maurice Joly. In 1864, Joly published the political satire Dialogue in Hell Between Machiavelli and Montesquieu in protest against the regime of Napoleon III.
This plagiarism was brought to light by Irish journalist Philip Graves in a series of articles in The Times of London in 1921. These articles were the first to expose "The Protocols" as an antisemitic forgery.
learn more about "The Protocols"
The Dybbukast, Episode 5: "The Protocols, Henry Ford, and The International Jew"
Co-produced with the Association for Jewish Studies, episode five of our podcast explores Henry Ford’s publication of The International Jew: The World's Foremost Problem, a four volume series containing newspaper articles which were originally published from 1920-1922. These writings were based on – and included elements of – the notorious, fraudulent text “The Protocols of the Elders of Zion." The episode is co-hosted by Aaron Henne and Jeremy Shere and features scholarship from Dr. Pamela Nadell and Dr. Lisa Leff. You can listen on the player below.
Primary Source, Episode 2: "The Protocols of The Elders of Zion"
Primary Source, a podcast from the Taube Center for Jewish Studies at Stanford University, has an episode on "The Protocols" which asks, "What does the storming of the Capitol building, a Hungarian billionaire, mass shootings, and 4Chan have to do with a forged Russian text that’s more than 100 years old?" You can listen to that episode at primarysourcepodcast.com.
"The Conspiracy Theory to Rule Them All" by Steven J. Zipperstein, published in The Atlantic
So...how do we create a new work?
Each theatre dybbuk work is conceived by Artistic Director Aaron Henne and created with the ensemble. The process begins with internal research and then takes up to three years from the first group meeting to opening night.
In the first phase of the process, we have around a dozen script development meetings with the writer/director, dramaturg, composer, actors, designers, and a scholar.
We also have regular physical development sessions – meeting two to three times a month – with the actors, writer/director, choreographer, and other leaders of stylized performance, such as a mask and puppet designer.
As the script development concludes, a brief workshop phase begins where we experiment with choreography, music, and other show-specific performance elements such as shadow work, mask work, and puppetry. We also refine the script.
In the final four weeks leading up to opening night, we take what we learned during the workshop period and "set" the script, music, and various staging elements. While the script and staging may continue to change up until opening night, this final stage is a process of refining all that we have created up until then.