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date: 13 August 2020

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter looks at embodiment in Romeo and Juliet not in its typical context as an exemplary expression of romantic love, but instead as a prompt for contested nationality and a complex global politics. The case study for this discussion is the Iraqi Theatre Company’s adaptation, Romeo and Juliet in Baghdad, performed in London and Stratford-upon-Avon as part of the World Shakespeare Festival (a signature event within the Cultural Olympiad staged as part of the London 2012 celebrations). The Iraqi version of the play sets the well-known plot as a story of cross-sectarian love (the Capulets are Sunni and the Montagus Shia) and so dramatizes the contingent practices of Iraqi nationhood. Performances emphasized the national, religious, and gendered bodies at risk and challenged an English spectatorship who, I argue, were particularly unprepared for such a revision of the play.

Keywords: Iraq, adaptation, performance, global politics, nation, Romeo and Juliet

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