ErovocateurÉs Ònal act is Òtting of critical stance
AFTER 17 years as the artistic director of the Young Vic theatre in Waterloo, its Jewish artistic director, David Lan, has announced he will be stepping down.
But before he does, he will be overseeing one final season — which features an anti-Israel play featuring prominently in the programme.
While not the most vocal Jewish critic of Israel in Britain, Mr Lan has played a role in trying to advance an anti-Israel narrative in UK theatre.
In 2015, he was a signatory to an Artists for Palestine letter to the Daily Mail, protesting against a piece it had run about a planned tour by a Palestinian theatre company of a play called The Siege.
The title was a reference to the 2002 siege of the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem, when Palestinian gunmen took more than 200 Christian clergy and civilians hostage, using them as human shields against the Israeli Defence Forces, which had occupied parts of the West Bank in an effort to stop an avalanche of terror attacks.
In the play’s narrative, however, the Palestinian gunmen are heroes, and the Christians in the church are not hostages, but supporting the fighters. The play also celebrated terrorists who murdered Israeli civilians such as Avi Boaz, a pro-Palestinian peace activist.
The Artists for Palestine group’s letter accused the Board of Deputies of being “an organisation with a shocking record of acting to suppress both cultural and academic events which explore the bitter reality of Palestinian existence”.
It also claimed that “Palestinian voices are in danger of being drowned out by a vociferous pro-Israel lobby that smears all Palestinians as terrorists and antisemites”.
Born in Cape Town, Mr Lan was one of the first high-profile figures to link Israel with apartheid-era South Africa.
In 2002, discussing his decision to stage a play called Alive from Palestine: Stories under Occupation, Independent “the government of Israel had a strategy which I recognised from my experience in South Africa, which involves the destruction not only of the political entity
[of Palestine] but also the social and cultural entities, in order totally to demoralise people, to destroy their integrity as a culture. Anything one can do to assist in resisting that, one wants to do”. Mr Lan, who moved to London in 1972, joined the Young Vic as artistic director in 2000, and played a key role in the theatre’s architectural redesign. He has produced more than 200 shows over the course of his career, and was awarded a CBE for services to theatre in 2014.
He has a long-standing association with Caryl Churchill, whose 2009 play, Seven Jewish Children, was condemned by a number of British Jewish groups as being antisemitic. is Rachel Corrie Times
The Young Vic in Waterloo