The region is an overlooked yet crucial lens for the study of Shakespeare appropriation. While not wholly or necessarily separate from community, nation, and empire, regions generate distinct ways of being and knowing that demand our attention. This essay proposes an analytical framework that it calls critically regional Shakespeare to foreground these epistemologies. Scaffolding this framework is a series of increasingly complex questions about what constitutes a region, how Shakespeare relates to regions, and what Shakespeare studies stands to gain from thinking regionally. To answer these questions, this essay draws on the discourse of local and global Shakespeares and the field of critical regionalism and examines two recent appropriations of Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice. The Merchant of Santa Fe and District Merchants were commissioned and performed, respectively, in New Mexico in 1993 by La Compañía de Teatro de Alburquerque and in Washington, DC, in 2016 by the Folger Shakespeare Theatre. Both appropriations rework the dream motif in Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice to explore the foundations of regional construction and discovery, including racial violence, gender inequities, and cross-cultural practices. What proves critical about regional Shakespeare is its recognition of lived experiences of regions as a source of knowledge in Shakespeare appropriation and, more broadly, its authorization of this historically undervalued epistemology in Shakespeare studies.


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pp. 341-363
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