PROTESTERS HOLD a sign outside the Gesher Theater's show in Toronto over the weekend.
(photo credit: GESHER)
An Israeli theater group is facing protests as it tours North America, including a call for its host theaters to cancel shows and demonstrators waiting outside with signs.
The Gesher Theater, based in Tel Aviv, is currently on a tour across North America, staging shows in Toronto, New York and Pittsburgh. Over the weekend it held two performances of its show The Dybbuk in Toronto, and was met outside by a very small group of protesters holding a sign protesting “Israeli apartheid.”
Beginning on Wednesday, Gesher is staging four shows in New York City – two productions of The Dybbuk and two of In the Tunnel, a satire that features two Israelis and two Palestinians trapped inside a tunnel. Next week the theater will head to Pittsburgh, where it will hold four performances of In the Tunnel.
Adalah-NY: The New York Campaign for the Boycott of Israel sent a letter last week to the organizations hosting Gesher in all three cities asking them to cancel the shows.
The letter noted that the theater – and the international productions – are sponsored in part by the Israeli government.
“These performances support the Israeli government in implementing its systematic ‘Brand Israel’ strategy of employing arts and culture to divert attention from the state’s decades of violent colonization, brutal military occupation, and denial of Palestinian refugees’ right of return,” the letter read. It was signed by several dozen artists, including actresses Miriam Margolyes (Harry Potter
), and Janet Henfrey (As Time Goes By
The letter also accused Gesher of being “actively complicit in the occupation and colonization of the West Bank because it performs in and thereby legitimizes illegal Israeli settlements like Ariel.... Please help to pressure the Israeli government to end 70 years of brutal repression by canceling the Gesher Theater’s performances at your festival.”
Despite the letter, the productions in Toronto went ahead as scheduled, and tickets for the New York and Pittsburgh shows are still being sold.
A spokeswoman for the theater group told The Jerusalem Post
on Wednesday that it is not concerned by the campaign.
“The Gesher Theater is proud to represent Israeli culture and Israeli theater when its plays and actors appear outside the borders of the state,” said the spokeswoman. “The filled halls and the enthusiastic response from the crowd show the true interest in Israeli creations.”
The statement added that culture “is designed to build bridges and dialogue between points of view, which is one of the central tasks of the theater.”
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