30 July – 25 August
Underbelly, Bristo Square (cancelled owing to ultra-leftist SWP intimidation)
This show was supposed to have been performed at the Underbelly Cow Barn. Artists come from all over the world to take part in the Edinburgh Festival Fringe with no bother. This year I have seen artists from Georgia, the USA, Ireland, Australia and New Zealand as well as the home nations of the UK. That’s as it should be.
However, The City, a hiphop opera is performed by the Incubator Theatre which comes from Israel; so according to the Socialist Workers Party we shouldn’t see it because of the way that state’s government is treating the people of Gaza. Personally I do sympathise with the abandoned Palestinian people and have none at all for the current extremist government of Israel and its occupation of stolen land. I also have grave issues with the US government’s interference in Ukraine, Libya, most of the Middle East and Pakistan; especially with the use of drone bombs.
By the SWP’s logic, we should also boycott all the Americans staging plays too. Let’s get this straight; the people behind The City are artists. They aren’t in Edinburgh to promote the cause of killing children in Gaza. They’re here to put on a show. The American artists aren’t over here to justify Obama’s wars either. They’re here to promote their art. Just because of where they come from, the producers of The City have been penalised, intimidated, shouted down and treated in the most loutish manner. This is disgraceful and it’s a double disgrace that the Fringe organisers and the Underbelly have caved in to this denial of the artists’ rights.
I witnessed this on Saturday afternoon just as I came out of the performance of Private Peaceful reviewed elsewhere. Several dozen screaming men and women carrying SWP posters and carrying Palestinian flags surrounded three musicians and other artists as they attempted to give a silent open-air performance of the cancelled show while three or four police constables tried to keep order.
Cast members managed to hand out a flyer to those members of the public who could get close enough to speak to them. Here’s part of what it said…
We were supposed to perform at Underbelly’s Cow Barn, when one small but loud demonstration was enough for the festival organisers to decide to kick us out altogether. The Fringe could have chosed ot protect everybody’s rights to demonstrate. Instead they decided it’s easier to silence art.
We are actors, musicians and Fringe enthusiasts. Yes, we come from Israel. No, we are not politicians, nor is our show political in any way. We acknowledge that there is a difficult and complex realist in our region. We encourage debate, freedom of speech and open dialogue. But it seems that the Fringe is no longer a place for open dialogue, but rather a place where any group of people that don’t like something or someone can get a show cancelled and boycott art. We are here for the love of art, for the joy for creating, performing and most of all – for keeping an open mind and heart to new and great things. Help us keep the Fringe a safe space for art.
Reviewed by David Kerr