Erith Jaffe-Berg
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Ebrei and Turchi performing in early modern Venice and Mantua
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This chapter explores the ways in which Jews and Ottoman Turks participated in theatre-making in early modern northern Italian cities, notably Mantua and Venice. Embraced for their economic and commercial contribution, the religiously and culturally distinctive minorities were also segregated into separate living quarters, taxed as foreigners and visually branded in order to clearly mark their difference. Despite the separation of minority populations, the Turks, and to a greater extent the Jews were incorporated in civic events and encouraged to participate in theatrical spectacles and performances. The subject of Jewish and Turkish participation in theatrical and civic performances has received little attention considering the vast archival trace they left behind. This essay brings to light the Turkish acrobatic performances which took place in Venice and in Prague and offers an analysis of their importance in the context of civic rituals. In addition, the chapter offers many examples of Jewish performances in the Venetian and Mantuan context, including several never before mentioned examples taken from the Mantua state archives.

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