British artists and activists are demanding that Shakespeare’s Globe Theater cancel a recently announced performance of “Hamlet” at the Israeli Cameri Theatre in Tel Aviv on March 30. Text below is from Inminds and Artists for Palestine. Photos via Inminds.
On 25th March 2016 activists from Inminds human rights group protested outside Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre in London urging the theatre not to breach the Palestinian call for a cultural boycott of Israel and cancel their scheduled performance at the Cameri Theatre in Tel Aviv on 30th March.
The Cameri Theatre is inextricably linked to the Israeli military with their weekly performance’s for the troops, scholarships for soldiers and materials for military bases provided by the theatre’s funding arm.
The Cameri Theatre is also seeped in Israel’s colonisation programme with its regular performances in Israel’s Jews-only illegal settlements built on stolen Palestinian land.
A letter to the Globe’s artistic director Dominic Dromgoole, written on the day of the protest, by senior British theatre figures, and Palestinian theatre and cultural groups, asking Shakespeareâ€™s Globe theatre not to perform at the Cameri Theatre was read out at the protest along with speeches and street theatre.
Inminds chair Abbas Ali said: “We are angry and disappointed. Why is Shakespeare’s Globe playing at a theatre complicit in war crimes? Just 44 miles up the road from the Cameri is devastated Gaza still bleeding from the last massacre. Does Palestinian suffering mean nothing to them? We spoke to the Globe’s artistic director Dominic Dromgoole, but he seemed more concerned about us projecting words onto his wall than about Palestinian lives. Rather than deal with the issue of complicity in war crimes he wanted to censor our words. Is this really what Shakespeare is about?”
BOYCOTTS OF CAMERI THEATRE
In 2012, British theatre director Peter Brook pulled out of the Cameri Theatre’s annual International Festival of Plays.
Mr Brook, director of ThÃ©Ã¢tre des Bouffes du Nord, declared that his company will not take part because he is â€œagainst the act of colonisationâ€. Mr Brook signed a letter to the Cameri said: â€œThe fact that the Cameri Theatre has accepted to support the brutal action of colonisation by playing in Ariel [in the West Bank] has made us aware that in coming to your theatre we would appear as a support for that brutal action. This forces us to decline your invitation to perform in your theatre. The decision is entirely ours, and not to come to you, it is our free choice. We know that there are many amongst you and in your country who share our attitude and it is them we wish to support as well as the people of Palestine.â€
In 2012 when the Cameri Theatre was scheduled to participate at Dehliâ€™s International Arts Festival, 150 Indian artists and theatre groups wrote to the festival stating that â€œThe Cameri Theatre serves as an official propaganda tool for the State of Israel — a state that occupies Palestinian lands and practises apartheid policies on the Palestinian people. The Cameri theatre is complicit in the Israeli occupation of Palestine because it chooses to perform in the illegal settlement of Ariel. Ariel is one of the largest settlements in the occupied West Bank, located on expropriated agricultural Palestinian land. The construction of Israeli settlements on occupied Palestinian land violates international law, and amounts to a war crime. Illegal Ariel contaminates Palestinian water and agricultural lands. Illegal Ariel is surrounded by walls and fences, and closely guarded by soldiers and armed security personnel. A theatrical performance in this illegal settlement is, by definition, a performance to an exclusively Israeli audience. Palestinians living even in the nearest village are physically excluded from attending. By performing in such circumstances, the Cameri profits from and legitimizes Israelâ€™s illegal colonization policies, and becomes an accomplice to these crimes.â€
Artists for Palestine UK has issued a letter to Dominic Dromgoole, the artistic director of the Globe:
Senior theatre figures, and theatre and cultural groups from across Palestine, have asked Shakespeareâ€™s Globe theatre not to perform at the Cameri Theatre in Tel Aviv. The performance, only recently arranged, is scheduled for March 30th.
In a letter addressed to Globe artistic director Dominic Dromgoole, the signatories point out that the Cameri Theatre has performed repeatedly in Ariel, the largest illegal Israeli settlement in the Occupied Palestinian Territories. The construction of Israeli settlements on occupied Palestinian land violates international law, and amounts to a war crime.
The 2 year â€˜Globe to Globe Hamletâ€™ tour is due to visit most countries in the world. Originally Israel was not on the schedule, but it seems that pressure has been applied to get the Tel Aviv trip added to the programme.
The Globe is proud of performances in a Syrian refugee camp, and in the â€˜Jungleâ€™ at Calais. In Israel it is the Palestinian refugees who are the dispossessed. But the Globe chooses to perform at the theatre of a company complicit in their exclusion from their own country.
Naomi Wimborne-Idrissi, a spokesperson for Artists for Palestine UK, said:
â€œThe Globe asked the outstanding director Peter Brook for his endorsement of their tour, and he is quoted on their website: â€˜To take Hamlet in its original language around the world is a bold and dynamic project. It can bring a rich journey of discovery to new audiences everywhereâ€™. But Brook himself has refused to take his theatre company to perform at the Cameri theatre because of its complicity with Israelâ€™s illegal settlement project.â€
Notes for editors
- The letter is addressed to Dominic Dromgoole, the Globeâ€™s Artistic Director, and copied to Tom Bird, Executive Producer at the Globe, and responsible for the Globe-to-Globe Hamlet tour. Dromgoole is due to step down as artistic director next month after 10 years in the role.
- Many Israeli artists and performers have protested about performances in Ariel, and have refused to appear there.
- Full text of letter to Shakespeareâ€™s Globe
Dear Dominic Dromgoole,
We are disappointed that the Globe appears to have succumbed to Israeli blandishments or pressure in including the Cameri theatre in the touring schedule for â€˜Hamletâ€™ on March 30.
You are surely aware that Cameri, at least as much as Israelâ€™s other national theatre Habima, has played its part in legitimising the illegal occupation of Palestinian land by performing on many occasions in the settlement city of Ariel.
In 2012, some of us were among 37 British actors, directors and playwrights who urged you not to host HabimaÂ as part of the Globeâ€™s cultural Olympiad festival. One of our stated reasons was that to do so would undermine those courageous Israeli artists who had publicly committed themselves to refusing to perform in Ariel.
Theatre director Peter Brook, in September 2012,Â declined an invitationÂ to take his company to visit Cameri because, by playing in Ariel, that theatre had â€˜accepted to support the brutal action of colonisationâ€™ and therefore â€˜in coming to your theatre we would appear as a support for that brutal actionâ€™.
He acknowledged those artists and other Israelis â€˜who share our attitudeâ€™ and said â€˜it is them we wish to support as well as the people of Palestineâ€™.
The brutality and injustice experienced by Palestinians, including their artistic community, have only intensified in the past four years.
We therefore ask you not to be indifferent to the Palestinian struggle for freedom, justice and equality, and to remove Cameri from your tour schedule.
Saleh Bakri, actor, Palestine
Justin Butcher, actor, director
David Calder, actor
Caryl Churchill, playwright
Tony Graham, director
John Graham Davies, actor, director
Miriam Margolyes, actress
Andrea Mason, actor
Al-Harah Theater, Palestine
Al Kamandjati, Palestine
Ashtar Theater,Â Palestine
El-Funoun Dance Troupe, Palestine
Freedom Theater, Jenin
Palestinian Circus School
Palestine Performing Arts Network (PPAN)
Theater Day Productions, Palestine
Yabous Cultural Centre, Palestine
Yes Theater, Palestine