This paper aims to introduce a new method in reception studies, initially developed by Israeli scholar Anat Gesser-Edelsburg, and used by scholars at the Department of Theatre and Dance studies in Stockholm for a public survey at the Swedish National Theatre.
The method's point of departure is the concept of The Theatrical Event, and it aims to make it possible to anticipate and to interpret social impact and changes in viewpoints caused by theatre performances.
It is illustrated by a model entitled the Change Potential, which demonstrates the complex interaction between theatre performances and the surrounding world, and which ends in pointing out three possible ways in which theatre performances can be expected to influence spectators: The Reinforcement Model, The Change Model, and The Entrenchment Model.
In this paper the model is used as a tool of understanding interesting figures collected during a public survey carried out in 2005 in connection with a production of Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice at The Royal Dramatic Theatre in Stockholm. The figures give evidence of changes in several viewpoints, among which increased anti-Semitic viewpoints caused by the performance.
After examining the production’s Change Potential, consisting of Reality Conventions, Invitation to the Theatre and Rhetoric and Aesthetic Strategies, it is suggested that the change caused by the performance can be understood within the frame of The Reinforcement Model, which means that the Theatrical Event only strengthened already existing attitudes towards Jews in Swedish society.
2007. Vol. 19