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.
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