Berlin-based Schaubühne has been touring several Chinese cities with its internationally acclaimed production of Ibsen’s „An Enemy of the People”, directed by Thomas Ostermeier. After the first stop in China’s capital Beijing, theatre administrators objected to a scene with audience participation in a discussion about the environmental and political scandal in Ibsen’s play. The current tour’s last two performances in Nanjing have been cancelled now.
The sensitive issue of censorship is remarkable in this case as Schaubühne is the leading German theatre company frequently visiting China since 2014 as part of a general development towards more international theatre shown in China. The company and their shows, e.g. “Hamlet” also directed by Ostermeier, have been celebrated by Chinese audiences on several occasions and Schaubühne’s artistic directorship is well acquainted with the pre-check procedures of each performance to be shown there. Official statements are yet to be expected.
The Martin Roth-Initiative protects artists who are committed in their home country to the freedom of art, democracy and human rights by enabling temporary residence in Germany or third countries for the purpose of protecting those who are being persecuted. Special significance is placed on the cultural scenes and local civil society in the host countries which, during the scholarship period, work with the scholarship holders, provide support and enable their professional development.
Following a public appeal of leading figures of the German cultural scene who stated their willingness to accept responsibility and support their persecuted colleagues abroad, the Martin Roth-Initiative has been created as a joint project by ifa (Institut für Auslandsbeziehungen) and Goethe-Institut. Funded by the Federal Foreign Office of Germany the program promotes and supports endangered artists in close collaboration with a network of both national and international (cultural) institutions. The recipients of scholarships are selected by an independent Selection Committee consisting of members of the art and cultural scene in Germany as well as representatives from international civil-society institutions.
The Brussels Declaration – For the Freedom of the Arts was initiated by German politicians and artists in Brussels at the beginning of July. It serves as a counter-position to the right-wing nationalist appropriation of culture and the arts.
More than 50.000 have signed the declaration which has been published in German, English, French, Polish and Hungarian.
The declaration is published and can be signed at change.org
The Palestinian Theatre ASHTAR, established in Jerusalem in 1991, specializes in theatre training and acting programs, mainly in the form of Forum Theatre on community issues. The Al Mishal Theatre, ASHTAR’s second department in Gaza, has been destroyed by an Israeli air strike on 10 August as response to Hamas rocket attacks on Israel before. At least 18 people were wounded. The building hold a library and offices for artistic associations including dance troupes and musicians. Intentional targeting of cultural property is illegal under international law (Israel has signed the Hague Convention).
“With great rage and deep pain, ASHTAR Theatre condemns the brutal attack of the Israeli occupation on Al Mishal Theatre in Gaza which flattened the 6 floors building to the ground. Al Mishal was the base of ASHTAR youth group in Gaza since 2008. It had been the stage to various productions of ASHTAR Theatre; The Gaza Monologues, Romeo and Juliet in Gaza, Hanin, The Flowers Garden, Hercules Children, and many more. The atrocities of the occupation had been escalating and it seems there is no bottom for their deterioration.”
Iman Aoun, Artistic Director, ASHTAR Theatre, Ramallah – Palestine
In it’s statement the Palestinian Performing Arts Network calls the UNESCO “to issue a statement and resolution condemning the destruction of Palestinian tangible cultural heritage, and demand the international community rebuild the Center and other cultural and artistic organizations destroyed by the Israeli occupation in Gaza Strip.”
The Guardian published a detailed report on August 22nd.
The UNESCO Chair ‘Cultural Policy for the Arts in Development’ at the University of Hildesheim (Germany) and its ARTS RIGHTS JUSTICE PROGRAM invite experienced researchers from all world regions to apply to undertake one of three studies which will contribute to the university’s ARTS RIGHTS JUSTICE OBSERVATORY. The papers shall be researched and written within a period of three months, from mid August until end of October 2018 and will be remunerated with a total of 3.000,- €.
On Saturday, 26 May about 30 protesters from an extreme right movement disrupted the performance of the play “Our violence and your violence” by Croatian stage director Oliver Frljic at the theatre festival “Divadelni Svet” in Brno. Protesters climbed onto the stage and formed a human shield to prevent the audience from watching the play while some booed and threw pieces of paper at the actors from the Mladinsko Theatre Ljubljana. The protesters were eventually thrown out of the theatre by riot police.
Czech Cardinal Dominik Duka has condemned the festival in a letter on behalf of other bishops, from featuring the play. The theatre festival has resisted demands the play be withdrawn from the programme. Based on “The Aesthetics of Resistance” by Peter Weis, “Our Violence and your Violence” is Frljic’s comment on Fascism and Islamophobia.
Update: On 29 of May the Mladinsko Theatre has sent a letter of protest to the Embassy of the Czech Republic in Ljubljana. The theatre declares “that the Brno police, the instrument of Czech authorities, did not come to prevent the violence and protect freedom of speech and artistic expression, but were rather waiting for the violence to happen before they reacted.”