An Edge Hill University professor’s latest play is to open London Jewish Book Week at a top London venue.
David Peimer, Professor of Theatre and Performance Studies, is delighted that Dame Janet Suzman, an Honorary Doctor of Edge Hill, will lead the Q and A panel after the show, Shylock Speaks, which will be performed at Kings Place on Saturday 29 February; chairing the panel will be Anthony Julius, the lawyer who defended Princess Diana.
Dame Janet is one of the most respected Shakespeare actresses and has stated she is ‘happy to know and admire David’.
David, an award-winning playwright, librettist and director who has written more than a dozen plays and directed over 45, was delighted to have his work selected to open the Book Week, an annual international literary festival held in London.
“I didn’t expect this,” he said. “I just write, it’s in my blood, it’s my passion. I can’t not write.”
It was while he was working for New York University’s theatre department in Prague that David first began the project which would evolve into Shylock Speaks, co-written by Robert Gordon, Goldsmith’s Professor of Theatre, and Director of the Pinter Centre.
A continuation of the academic’s research project on ‘Decolonising Shakespeare’ with Goldsmiths, University of London and the Pinter Centre, the play examines Shakespeare’s ‘outsider’ Shylock in The Merchant of Venice.
The project began when he was invited to stage his play, Shylock’s Ghosts, co-created with Robert Gordon, for the World Shakespeare Congress in Prague in 2011; the Congress is held every four years and attracts the most renowned Shakespeare scholars in the world.
The play’s depiction of Shylock asks “who is a citizen?” and “who is an ‘alien’?”.
“As recurring forces of nationalism and antisemitism frame cultural identity, the play asks; where does Shylock belong today?” David explained.
“The play shows a new, surprising approach to The Merchant of Venice and I hope it offers some resonance with the audience, and the connections between prejudice and stereotyping others.”
Shylock Speaks is part of a double bill alongside internationally-renowned British writer, actor and director Steven Berkoff who will present his autobiography in A World Elsewhere; the evening also features another panel interview by Rachel Johnson, the highly respected media journalist, and sister of Prime Minister Boris Johnson.
Originally from South Africa, David’s upcoming projects include writing a script endorsed by the Nelson Mandela Foundation, a libretto for ENO board member Lisa Logan, a chapter for a book titled Theatre and Racism, earmarked for publication by Palgrave, and a chapter for a book titled, Global Musical Theatre, for OUP.