Jacobson and Ades hit out at theatre boy­cotters

The Jewish Chronicle - - News - BY JEN­NIFER LIP­MAN

THE CALL to stop Is­rael’s Habima theatre com­pany from per­form­ing in the Globe’s Shake­speare fes­ti­val for po­lit­i­cal rea­sons has been la­belled “an act of self-harm” by an award-win­ning Bri­tish novelist.

Howard Jacobson was among those who added his voice to the con­dem­na­tions of the 37 artists who urged the Globe Theatre to with­draw Is­rael’s in­vi­ta­tion to the Cul­tural Olympiad event, which be­gins on April 23. The Is­raeli per­form­ers are due to stage a He­brew-lan­guage ver­sion of The Mer­chant of Venice, which will be fol­lowed by a per­for­mance by the Pales­tinian Ashtar theatre com­pany. Ac­tors from China, Nige­ria and Zim­babwe will also take part in the fes­ti­val.

Mr Jacobson told the Ob­server that cen­sor­ing art for any po­lit­i­cal or re­li­gious rea­son was “to tear out its very heart… For artists them­selves to do such a thing to art is not only trea­son­able; it is an act of self-harm.”

He said that when the let­ter call­ing for a boy­cott, signed by Emma Thompson and Mark Ry­lance, was pub­lished in the Guardian, he “could hear the minds of peo­ple in whom we vest our sense of creative free­dom snap­ping shut”.

English play­wright Howard Brenton also weighed in, ask­ing the sig­na­to­ries of the boy­cott call to “think again.

“De­nounce, don’t cen­sor,” he added.

“By invit­ing the Na­tional Theatre of China to per­form Richard I I I , i s t he Globe also show­ing sup­port for the oc­cu­pa­tion of Ti­bet?” Mr Brenton asked in a let­ter to the Guardian.

Opera com­poser Thomas Ades said the call to ban was “shock­ing and pro­foundly dis­ap­point­ing”. He added: “It is dis­tress­ing and sham­ing to see artists of the cal­i­bre of Ry­lance join­ing such forces.”

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