Jewish Theatre Making in Mantua, 1520-1650
Jewish Theatre Making in Mantua, 1520-1650
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Table of Contents
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Chapter 1. Introduction: "Under the Happy Shadow and Secure Protection"

Chapter 2. Beginnings: Jews and the Early Modern Italian Stage 1475 – 1540

Chapter 3. Leone de’ Sommi: A Canny Theatrical Intermediary

Chapter 4. Simon Basilea: A Virtuoso of Jewish Mantua

Chapter 5. Jewish Theatrical Production in the Shadow of the Counter-Reformation

Chapter 6. The End of Jewish Performance in Mantua

Chapter 7. Conclusion

Appendix I: A transcription and translation of the first known performance by the Jews of Pesaro in 1474.

Appendix II: A List of all performances staged by the Jews of Mantua


Erith Jaffe-Berg

Jewish Theatre Making in Mantua, 1520-1650

This book studies how the Jewish community of Mantua established, normalized, and maintained interrelations with the Christian community for over 130 years, from 1520 to 1650, by means of theatre performance for the Gonzaga Dukes. Performance is shown to have been a mutually beneficial "currency" that both the Dukes and Jews could use to calibrate their relations with one another. Seen in this light, the author demonstrates that performance was not the consequence of cultural exchange between Jews and Christians, but was one of the means by which the complicated nature of cultural communication and exchange took place.

Jewish Theatre Making in Mantua details the performances created by the Jewish community of Mantua and argues that these theatrical events were a crucial component in the ability of Jews to live peacefully within Mantua, which became one of the few refuges left to Jews in the Italian peninsula and Catholic Europe.

Erith Jaffe-Berg

Erith Jaffe-Berg is Professor and Chair of Theatre, Film, and Digital Production at the University of California, Riverside.