Hijacking Shakespeare

British actress Susannah York gets political at her Tel Aviv performance, much to her fans' dismay.

By
June 10, 2007 08:16
2 minute read.
susannah york 88 298

susannah york 88 298. (photo credit: )

 
X

Dear Reader,
As you can imagine, more people are reading The Jerusalem Post than ever before. Nevertheless, traditional business models are no longer sustainable and high-quality publications, like ours, are being forced to look for new ways to keep going. Unlike many other news organizations, we have not put up a paywall. We want to keep our journalism open and accessible and be able to keep providing you with news and analyses from the frontlines of Israel, the Middle East and the Jewish World.

As one of our loyal readers, we ask you to be our partner.

For $5 a month you will receive access to the following:

  • A user experience almost completely free of ads
  • Access to our Premium Section
  • Content from the award-winning Jerusalem Report and our monthly magazine to learn Hebrew - Ivrit
  • A brand new ePaper featuring the daily newspaper as it appears in print in Israel

Help us grow and continue telling Israel’s story to the world.

Thank you,

Ronit Hasin-Hochman, CEO, Jerusalem Post Group
Yaakov Katz, Editor-in-Chief

UPGRADE YOUR JPOST EXPERIENCE FOR 5$ PER MONTH Show me later Don't show it again

Acclaimed British actress and Oscar award nominee Susannah York stunned members of a sell-out audience at the Cameri theater June 5 when she ended her performance with a dedication to Mordechai Vanunu. Quoting Portia from The Merchant of Venice, York lauded the quality of mercy, and implored Israelis to take the speech to heart. (York chose not to share with her audience Portia's utter disregard for mercy when her time came to mete it out to the Jewish Shylock.) Without actually mentioning names, York praised the man who has "served his sentence" in Israel, and is still not allowed to enjoy the freedom she claims he deserves, clearly alluding to Vanunu. York, who was presenting a one-woman show on "The Loves of Shakespeare's Women," also prefaced her haunting rendition of Constance's soliloquy to her son, killed in battle, by a reference to contemporary warfare. "Mothers all over the world are still mourning their children who are the victims of war," she said, "In Iraq, in Israel, in Palestine and in Darfur." In an interview after the show, York told The Jerusalem Post that she did not think she had "hijacked" the performance to air her political views. "A person has to do what they have to do," she said, "and I had to do this." York dismissed the fact that her audiences felt doubly deceived, given the prevailing anti-Israel climate popular among some British academics and artists. After the first "non-political" half of the evening, there had been a palpable warm welcome for the actress, who had ostensibly come to share her love of Shakespeare here, despite talk of an academic boycott in England. Then came the Vanunu section. York declined to confirm whether she had deliberately agreed to stage her evening of Shakespeare in Israel in order to deliver this speech. "I was invited long ago to do the show," she said. Addressing the question of whether a press-conference or political gathering would not have been a more appropriate platform for her impassioned plea on Vanunu's account, York would only say that "no-one listens" in such frameworks. "I wanted people to listen to me," she reiterated. York has been consistently active on behalf of Vanunu. In April, 2004 she flew in from England to be on hand at Shikmona Prison in Ashkelon, when he was released after 18 years. Vanunu, a former nuclear technician, was convicted of treason for revealing details of Israel's alleged nuclear weapons program to the British press in 1986. Vanunu has continually been at odds with the law over violations of his terms of release. To a chorus of boos and jeers from angry theater-goers, as well as scattered applause, York concluded her show with an epilogue from As You Like It, imploring the men and women in the audience to "like as much of this play as please you." For many York fans in the Tel Aviv audience, however, there was a lot not to like.

Related Content

Sarah Silverman
August 26, 2014
Jewish women take home gold at 2014 Emmys

By JTA