Set Up

This workshop explored the relationship between ethics and politics, especially as symbolized by the controversial figure of Niccolò Machiavelli (one of the project’s key research themes – find out more here).

The workshop aimed to investigate the processes of theatrical complicity and collective identity as well as the intellectual appeal of cynical realism. It also introduced participants to the sly, often confrontational nature of Marlowe’s drama.

The first half of the workshop was devoted to exploring how theatrical ‘villainy’ works with an audience, including the uses of secretiveness, insult, scorn and ‘us versus them’ identity. In the second half, groups identified and performed short passages from Machevill’s prologue to The Jew of Malta, using the edited version given below.

*              *              *

MACHEVILL.        Albeit the world think Machevill is dead,

Yet was his soul but flown beyond the Alps,

To view this land, and frolic with his friends.

To some perhaps my name is odious;

But such as love me, guard me from their tongues,

And let them know that I am Machiavel,

And weigh not men, and therefore not men’s words.

Admired I am of those that hate me most:

Though some speak openly against my books,

Yet will they read me, and thereby attain

A royal throne, and, when they cast me off,

Are poisoned by my climbing followers.

I count religion but a childish toy,

And hold there is no sin but ignorance.

Birds of the air will tell of murders past:

I am ashamed to hear such fooleries.

Many will talk of title to a crown:

Might first made kings, and laws were then most sure

When, like the Draco’s, they were writ in blood.

Let me be envied and not pitied.

But whither am I bound?  I come not, I,

To read a lecture here in Britain,

But to present the tragedy of a Jew.

I crave but this — grace him as he deserves,

And let him not be entertained the worse

Because he favours me.