‘The Merchant’ in Venice

first_img“We didn’t want to have a sublime ‘Merchant of Venice.’ It has to be disturbing,” he said. “Shylock is not a real historical figure person, but there’s a bit of Shylock in anyone.”The idea of appealing the guilty verdict set forth in the play got some high-profile support with Ginsburg’s willingness to participate. She played the role of chief justice along with John R. Phillips, U.S. ambassador to Italy, Richard Schneider, professor at Wake Forest University School of Law, and two Italian jurists. Greenblatt and James Shapiro, an English professor at Columbia University, had what the Harvard scholar described as a “small spear-carrying role,” leading a discussion of the play during the 20-minute deliberation.“Above all, it was thrilling to watch the way that Justice Ginsburg brilliantly probed the case, repeatedly interrupting the claims and counterclaims with remarkably penetrating questions,” said Greenblatt.The mock decision was unanimous. The jurists threw out the claim for the pound of flesh Shylock had demanded from Antonio, and instead awarded the moneylender the return of his property, money, and religious freedom.Bassi hoped both events — along with symposia held earlier this year — help elevate cultural vibrancy in the small neighborhood, which can be walked end to end in minutes. The larger goal is cultural restoration of the museum that remains alongside the neighborhood’s five synagogues.“We need a modern-generation museum where you can admire the collections, and we need a cultural center. That’s the key to the center of this place. The attention and affection for this place has been so strong that we hope this will showcase what we have,” he said. Supreme Court associate justice receives Radcliffe Medal for her career battling for individual rights Recognizing the complexity inherent in marking the 500th anniversary of the Venice ghetto, organizers created some history of their own by staging the first production of Shakespeare’s “The Merchant of Venice” on the city’s landmark palazzo and holding a mock trial involving U.S. Supreme Court Associate Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.“You don’t celebrate the creation of the ghetto, but it’s not like marking the anniversary of Treblinka or Auschwitz,” said Stephen Greenblatt, John Cogan University Professor of the Humanities at Harvard, who participated in the mock trial and who taught Shakespeare in the joint Harvard/Ca’ Foscari University of Venice Summer School. Marking the creation of one of the world’s earliest ghettos in 1516, when the ruling Venetian council ordered the Jewish population to move to a small island marked by an iron foundry (gheto in Venetian dialect), has been a complex task for the small community of 500 Jews still living there. Shaul Bassi, associate professor at Ca’ Foscari University and director of Beit Venezia, said some people view any recognition as improper, while others believe there are lessons to be learned and shared.“We are not documenting 500 years of history. We are making a statement of how this is a lived cultural space, a lived religious space,” said Bassi, who saw the staging of “The Merchant of Venice” as particularly critical to the discussion. “The ghetto was a very cosmopolitan place.”Jews back then were allowed to work in the larger city during the day, but had to return to the gated, policed ghetto at night.‘We are not documenting 500 years of history. We are making a statement of how this is a lived cultural space, a lived religious space.’ — Shaul Bassi“It was an uncomfortable arrangement, an expression of extreme ambivalence, but it probably offered some protection to those who were shut in it,” said Greenblatt. “And what happened, not unlike what happened in the Harlem Renaissance, was that the community confined in the ghetto created a vibrant artistic and intellectual culture.”Organizers said the play was the ideal vehicle through which to celebrate that rich history, given that 2016 also marks the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death. Performers from Compagnia de’ Colombari, an Italian-born, New York-based theater collective, staged the play nightly in the ghetto through Aug. 1. Five actors took the stage each night to play different aspects of Shylock.“Even though he never existed in real life, Shylock is by far the most famous inhabitant of the ghetto. To ignore ‘The Merchant of Venice’ would be — in a curious way — to suppress the single thing most people associate with Venetian Jewry,” said Greenblatt. “It’s a complicated play because Shakespeare is a complicated playwright. It’s not a human rights document. It’s not a sentimental account of warm relations among different groups, but it is an incredibly interesting exploration of the roots of xenophobia.”Bassi said the director’s decision to split the role of Shylock was “audacious and bold and maybe even unsettling.” Honoring Ruth Bader Ginsburg Relatedlast_img read more

Virus spread starts to hit Indonesian tourism as foreign arrivals cool

first_img“Why is it increasing? Because there was the Chinese New Year [holiday] and tourist arrivals usually increase [during this period],” she added.Read also: Indonesian tourism suffers estimated US$500 million in losses due to COVID-19: Minister LuhutThe statistics agency data showed that the number of Malaysian tourists fell 10.6 percent year-on-year (yoy) to 206,532 arrivals in January, around 16 percent of the total visits, the highest among other countries of origin.Chinese tourists trailed behind Malaysians at 181,281 arrivals, a slight rise of 1.46 percent yoy, a far cry compared with the 73 percent annual growth recorded in January 2019. The novel coronavirus spread, first reported in China, has started to hit Indonesia’s tourism sector as the country has recorded slower growth in tourist arrivals following bans applied to visitors from China.Statistics Indonesia (BPS) revealed on Monday that tourist arrivals amounted to 1.27 million in January, around 5.85 percent higher than the 1.20 million recorded in the same month in 2019. However, the growth is much lower than the around 9.5 percent increase in arrivals during January 2019 compared with the same period in 2018.“The coronavirus impact can only be significantly seen in the last week of [January]. Some countries saw a decline [in tourist arrivals], like China, Malaysia and Singapore, but in total, they still record an increase,” said BPS deputy for statistics distribution and service Yunita Rusanti in Jakarta. Indonesia has closed its borders for those traveling to and from China in a bid to contain the spread of the pneumonia-like illness. President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo announced on Monday morning the first two COVID-19 positive cases on Indonesia’s soil after a Japanese tourist allegedly spread the virus during a visit to Jakarta. The government has announced a stimulus package worth Rp 10.3 trillion (US$742 million) to support the country’s economic growth. The package will include aid for staple goods programs and housing loans and payment subsidies for the bottom 30 percent of people in the income bracket to maintain consumer spending.Consumer spending contributes more than a half of Indonesia’s gross domestic product (GDP).The government will also grant Rp 3.3 trillion to 33 regional authorities to compensate for tax revenue losses from the tax exemptions given to hotels and restaurants for the next six months, give Rp 298.5 billion in incentives to airlines and travel agents to attract foreign tourists to Indonesia and another Rp 443.39 billion in discounts for domestic tourists visiting 10 tourist destinations. Topics : COVID-19 has infected more than 88,000 people in some 60 countries and killed around 3,000 people.Indonesia has set a target of welcoming 17 million tourists this year. Last year, a total of 16.1 million tourists visited the country, a far cry from the 2019 target of 18 million.Read also: Govt to pay Rp 72 billion to influencers to boost tourism amid coronavirus outbreakThe BPS also revealed that passengers on international flights increased by 12.13 percent yoy in January to 1.68 million, higher than the 11.27 percent annual growth recorded in the first month of 2019.Meanwhile, the occupancy rate of star-rated hotels stood at 49.17 percent in January, a decline of 2.3 percentage points compared with the occupancy rate in the same month last year of 51.47 percent.The average length of stay at star-rated hotels was 1.88 days in January, 0.17 days shorter compared with the same month in 2019. Indonesia Tourism Intellectuals Association (ICPI) chairman Azril Azahari cast doubts on the fiscal incentives, adding that he would much rather see the government use the funds to improve the current weaknesses in the tourism sector to prepare for 2021’s arrivals and promote quality rather than quantity in tourism.Read also: Let’s not kid ourselves. Indonesia is unlikely to be COVID-19-free. And that’s not our biggest problem.Indonesia still ranks 80th for security and safety, 98th for tourist service infrastructure, 102nd in health and hygiene and 135th for environmental sustainability, ranking lower than Singapore and Malaysia both in the competitiveness index and the four sub-indexes in the 2019 Travel and Tourism Competitiveness Report published by the World Economic Forum (WEF).”Under such conditions, no matter what [the government] does to promote tourism through low prices, when the public says no, it’s still a no,” Azril said.He also urged the government to remain transparent on the COVID-19 outbreak developments, citing Saudi Arabia’s decision to include Indonesia among 23 countries in a temporary ban on all umrah pilgrims as an example of how foreign countries are increasingly wary of the virus spread in Indonesia.last_img read more