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What would Shakespeare think of us?

Anniversaries usually raise an interesting issue of how has a great person whose life and work is being celebrated passed the test of time. Marking the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death we naturally ask ourselves how relevant and topical he is today and whether he still has something to tell us. However, the question should be reversed: it is not about what Shakespeare means to us, but what we would mean to him? What would he think of us? What would we be like in his eyes? Are we still topical and relevant for him? Is it not about his value for us after all these centuries, rather than whether we are worthy of him?

Our speakers will take as their point of departure King Lear and The Merchant of Venice, two great Shakespeare’s plays. In King Lear Shakespeare presents a relationship between a ruler and a fool to enquire the mission of art in general. Is it possible for art to be subversive in relation to a ruling authority, or is it art’s only role to fill structurally the position of “fool”, who is allowed to criticize the ruler precisely because his opinion does not count. A philosophical analysis of the relationship between Lear and Fool can help us answer this question. Of all Shakespeare’s plays it is The Merchant of Venice that is most directly involved with the emergence of capitalism, financial capital and the nature of debt. Its seemingly premodern habitus is strikingly related to postmodern development of capitalism and intrudes into many neuralgic points, “a debt crisis”, etc. Mercy, being the central subject of the play, may seem a premodern concept, but we can observe how it has recently shown its otherworldly revenge. The speakers will present their brief opening statements and allow the discussion to run freely in other Shakespeare-related directions.

Join us on Friday, 22 April at 17.30 at the Drama Café. Tickets for the event (2€) are available at the box office. Free admission for Drama Club members.