Playwright threatens to sue if play performed in Ariel

Following letter asking performers to boycott theater in settlement, writer says his contract doesn't include showings "outside of Israel's borders."

November 7, 2010 10:09
2 minute read.
Israeli children walk past Ariel's new Theater in

Ariel Theater 311. (photo credit: Associated Press)


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Playwright Shmuel Hasfari threatened to sue the Cameri theater company if a play that he wrote is performed at the Ariel Cultural Center, Army Radio reported on Sunday. Asfari is among the artists and academics who published an open letter on Friday calling on performers to boycott the theater, which was scheduled to open on Monday.

The letter asks the performers to consider that Ariel “is an illegal settlement which violates international law and the Geneva Conditions, which the State of Israel has signed.”

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Hasfari's play, Havdala, was still scheduled to be performed in the theater's opening week despite the playwright's objections.

Hasfari said that he will take legal action to prevent the play being performed in Ariel based on the fact that "there is a clause in my contract that every showing of the play outside of Israel's borders requires a new, separate contract."

Cameri Director General Noam Semel claimed that the clause in the contract which Hasfari is relying upon for his proposed legal action relates to the showing of his play in Austria and Germany and that the issue will be resolved in court.

The letter calling for artists to boycott the new theater said of Ariel that the settlement “was founded for only one purpose: to prevent Palestinians from being able to build an independent state, and by extension, preventing us, citizens of Israel, from having the chance to live in peace in this region.”

Author David Grossman, playwright Yeshoshua Sobol and filmmaker Eytan Fox are among the artists who signed the letter, which has also gained the support of academics such as Prof. Gad Kiner, theater arts department head at Tel Aviv University.

The letter was also signed by actors, make-up artists and lighting engineers.

In late August, following reports that several major theater houses are scheduled to perform at the Ariel Cultural Center when it opens this Monday, 36 professional theater actors and workers issued a letter vowing theywould not perform at the center because it is in the West Bank. A few days later, 150 professors and authors joined the boycott and published a letter online in which they refused to perform in theaters or cultural facilities beyond the Green Line.

In addition to professors such as Hebrew University’s Ze’ev Sternhell and Ben-Gurion University’s Neve Gordon, a supporter of anti-Israel divestment, the boycott letter was signed by prominent Israeli authors David Grossman, A.B. Yehoshua and Amos Oz.

During the weekly cabinet meeting following the publications of the letters, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said that “the State of Israel is under an attack of delegitimization by elements in the international community. This attack includes attempts to enact economic, academic and cultural boycotts. The last thing we need at this time is to be under such an attack – I mean this attempt at a boycott – from within.”

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