Friday, February 06, 2009

"THE QUALITY OF MERCY .........."

To Paisley Arts Centre to see a one man play called “Yasser” the plot is about a young Palestinian actor called “Yasser Mansour” the play is set in the dressing room of this young actor who is about to take the stage in “The merchant of Venice” playing ‘Shylock’ perhaps the best known Jew in literature. The character Shylock is of course an anti Semitic caricature; not uncommon for it’s time although not quite as brutal as that created by Dickens when he dreamed up Fagin in Oliver Twist, anti Semitism has been rife for hundreds of years and writers have exploited it to sell tickets. It still lurks under stones today, waiting to re-emerge; evil forces would like nothing better and they will use anything to re-create this evil. That is one of the reasons why we must always make the distinction between Jews and the state of Israel.

This was a “tour de force” by the actor William el Gardi, moving at breakneck speed between a host of characters; he played Israeli leaders such as Begin as well as Arab leaders like Hussein, Gadafy and Arafat with uncanny accents and mannerisms, describing how he and his friends as young kids used to mimic them as world events took place, Palestinians are among the most politically aware people in the world; well you would be wouldn’t you, at one point the young actor says “being born a Palestinian is a political act”

He relates the horror of the Middle East and the effects of the occupation on him and his family and tortures himself with doubt as to whether he can portray a Jew with any sympathy, can a Jew sympathise with a Palestinian? Would a Palestinian not be the perfect person to show sympathy with ‘Shylock’ ? It’s a very powerful provocative piece; and I would recommend that people should go see it, it is still touring and worth the effort. It won’t explain the conflicts to everyone’s satisfaction but; it might just help people to understand a little bit more, that’s worth the production alone, and the young actor who plays the part is mesmerising.

16 comments:

Anonymous said...

Actually, MoV was quite a progressive, anti-anti-semitic piece - for the time. Shylock does have many obviously Jewish charicatures, but there is nevertheless an attempt to portray him as a victim of excessive and unjust prejudice on the part of Antonio. "Hath not a Jew eyes", etc.

And Dickens was just a third-rate melodramaticist - no arguments there.

the broken down barman said...

could you tell me, in your opinion, what the difference is between jewa nand israel?? just so u can make the distinction.

Tom Paine said...

This is a ludicrous misunderstanding of Shakespeare. The idea that the greatest writer ever exploited anti-semitism to sell tickets is unworthy even of you. Yes, Shylock is a bad character, but Shakespeare wrote him the best lines and in his "hath not a Jew eyes..." speech made excellent (and, for his era, astonishing) points about the stupidity of stereotyping.

I know that you two-dimensional PC types think that only white men can be portrayed as evil characters (sometimes it seems that Hollywood thinks only white Englishmen) but that's just stupid. The best man I ever worked with was a Jew. So was the worst one. All races and religions come in the "full set" from evil to saintly. That goes for your beloved Palestinians too.

If you think being born anything is "a political act", then you are a racist. Think about it.

Anonymous said...

Is Paisley no a midden like Gaza after being run by folk like yersel for years. It certainly looks like it tae folk like me who have the unfortunate luck to have to visit regularly through my work. Full of workshy neds and fat slag wumen. Maybe Israel is targeting the wrang place.

Cllr Terry Kelly said...

(Anonymous) 06/02/09

I think Shylock starts as the caricature I described but, you are correct he becomes more of a victim representing his people as the play unfolds; the speech you refer to is actually a mixture of his plea and his determination for revenge, he is a very angry guy.

Dickens was also a man of his time and he was determined to avoid poverty which he had once endured; he therefore churned out the work, some of which is brilliant, if not Shakespeare.

Cllr Terry Kelly said...

(Tom Paine) 10:21

I think you are a bit over the top here; "I think you doth protest too much"

“The idea that the greatest writer ever exploited anti-semitism to sell tickets is unworthy even of you”

He chose to make ‘Shylock’ a Jew because the public were anti-Semitic and Jews were villains; the idea that Shakespeare would not stoop to such levels is just about as risible an idea as I have heard, he would have made his old mum the villain if he thought it would sell, just like others at that time and all the way up to today.

“The best man I ever worked with was a Jew”

And some of my best friends etc. if you bother to actually read the things that I have written about this very subject you will find that we are in total agreement.

“at one point the young actor says “being born a Palestinian is a political act” this was part of the play; how can you accuse me of not understanding Shylock and come away with absolute c**p like this, time for a change of 'nom de plume' I think.

Cllr Terry Kelly said...

(Anonymous) 17:34
“. It certainly looks like it tae folk like me”
So who are folk like you then? With such strong opinions you can surely tell us or are you afraid?

Cllr Terry Kelly said...

(the broken down barman) 07/02/09

“what the difference is between jewa nand israel??”

I assume you mean the difference between a Jew and Israel, the most obvious is that a Jew is a person and Israel is a country but; again I assume you don’t mean that.

A Jew is someone who is Jewish in the religious sense; British Jews, American Jews, Russian Jews etc. etc. a great many of them do not support the behaviour of the State of Israel, there is clearly a danger that Jews all over the world will be blamed for Israel’s crimes, ‘it’s already happening’

Some people will mistakenly equate a Jewish person with Israel and attack them and some, more sinisterly will deliberately use Israel’s actions to vent their vile anti-Semitism, it’s an important distinction.

Anonymous said...

Cllr Kelly.

I hope you will print this single line, the SNP are scum!.

Cheers,

John K. Quinn.

P.s Sorry I just hate the Nat's.

Cllr Terry Kelly said...

(Anonymous) 08/02/09

John K. I bow to no-one in my contempt for Nationalism but I would rather print your comment slightly censored; I’m sure anyone who reads it will catch your drift.

Anonymous said...

Concillor Kelly,
I think you should open your closed partisan mind and visit a real socialist blog at worldsocialism.org
Your blog has little in the way of real economic and political analysis and is peppered with ranting insults. Entertainment maybe, but nothing to do with socialism.

Cllr Terry Kelly said...

(Anonymous) 15:17

I don’t deal in ranting insults; I always treat people with respect except if they use ranting insults at me, then I retaliate.

The site you refer to is a classic example of so called Socialists who prefer arguing with each other to arguing with the real enemy.

I know it’s annoying for you but; Monty Python got you spot on with their sketch about “the people’s Judean Front” V “The Judean people’s front” a hilarious sketch with the unmistakable stamp of truth on it, you are sad really.

Anonymous said...

Councillor Kelly,
How can you claim to be a "socialist" when you are in a capitalist-supporting party?
The real enemy is capitalism yet you choose to support a capitalist party. How many Labour Governments have we had? Have we ever had "socialism"? You will know - as an alleged "socialist" - that the word "socialism" in the 19th Century originally meant a society of common ownership. It was once interchangeable with the word "communism". An end to production for profit. You may be well-meaning, you may not be, but I think it is a bit much for you to trumpet "I am a socialist" and be in Her Majestys Royal, loyal Labour Party which supports royality, the Lords, wars, Big Business and the continuation of Capitalism. It's you who is a saddo. And a wee bit of an embittered one!

Cllr Terry Kelly said...

Anymous - 12/02/09

Anyone in this country who claims to be a socialist and is not a member of the Labour Party is playing at it, kidding themselves on, posturing. The Labour party, “warts n all” is the only way. Now go back to your imminent revolution and try to sober up.

Anonymous said...

thats not convincing, Councillor Kelly!
One hours notice for hundreds of working class people (Car workers) in Browns Capitalist Britain.

Cllr Terry Kelly said...

(Anonymous) 19/02/09

I don’t know a single person who is not a capitalist by some definition or other, just look at the society that you live in and the things that you do, you may wish not to be a capitalist but you are.

Do you keep money in a bank, a building society, an Isa account, do you pay cash for everything, for a car, for a house, or do you borrow; take out a mortgage, do you keep your money under the bed in a shoe box, where did you get your money anyway, how did you get it, etc. etc.

The issue of the car workers is an outrage but I am doing my bit to change things, what is it that you do except stand on the sidelines sneering and girning.