Avraham Oz, Professor Emeritus from the University of Haifa and resident director of the Alfa Theatre Tel Aviv (Israel), has received a letter which accuses the theatre as supporter of terrorists. The letter threatens the group with “immense fines”, “loss of official state recognition” and warned “that you may be charged by a criminal charge insofar as inciting speeches will occur”.
The theatre has scheduled an event under the title “Children in Chains: Detention of Minors on the West Bank and East Jerusalem”, organized by the “Betselem” organization and the “Parents Against Child Detention” for November 20th, the international Children Rights Day. The sender is an organization which sends frequently complaints to the Ministry of Culture and the Ministry of Finance. Those complaints were and are used to justify measures against cultural institutions in Israel (see post on Cultural Loyalty Bill). The letter also counts several cases of former repression against theatres.
The Alfa Theatre is a fringe theatre with professional Jewish and Arab actors, working in both languages. Despite the attempts at intimidation, the theatre stands by its programme.
original letter (Hebrew), English Translation
At their meeting 19-21 October 2019 in Maribor/Slovenia the representatives of European ITI Centers have signed a resolution, initiated by the Swiss ITI centre, to stop the Turkish attacks against Kurdish people in Syria. The resolution calls for immediate action with tangible consequences like the immediate establishment of a no-fly zone over Northern Syria for Turkish war planes, the stop of arms deliveries to Turkey and the suspension of economic and military cooperation with Turkey, and demands a peaceful solution to the war in Syria with the participation of Kurdish people.
An outburst of anti-government protests began September 20 in Egypt. The government has instated a harsh anti-protest law, is leveling falsified charges to quash media outlets that confront the established national narrative, introducing a law that fines journalists for reporting “false news,” and prosecuting individuals who express different religious or political viewpoints with punishments of fines, harsh prison sentences, or even death sentences. Over 2,000 people have been imprisoned, many without any apparent connection to the protests, without charge and without legal counsel. Witnesses are reporting that all places of the Arab spring revolution in Cairo have been blocked and the police are stopping people in the street and asking for their mobile phones and then looking at what they share on facebook and their messages.
Among the reportedly detained people is the playwright Ezz Darwiesh from Alexandria. Darwiesh has been awarded at the Cairo International Festival for Experimental Theater 2007 and was invited to several festivals in the Arab World and Europe.
Source: PEN America
A Moscow court has released theater director Kirill Serebrennikov on bail after a year and a half spent under house arrest on criminal fraud charges, Russian news agencies reported this week. Bail terms restricted travel for Serebrennikov, former Seventh Studio general director Yury Itin and former Culture Ministry official Sofia Apfelbaum. A fourth defendant in the case, former Gogol Center director Alexei Malobrodsky, has been under similar travel restrictions since April 2018. The courts’s resent decision has overturned all the defendants’ travel restrictions.
Serebrennikov was detained in August 2017 on charges of embezzling 68 million rubles ($1 million) in government funds as part of a theater project, damages that later doubled to 133 million rubles. Supporters of the Gogol Center’s artistic director say the charges against him are politically motivated.
Sources: themoscowtimes.com, Arsis-Artists.com
On 24 July, the President of Albania, Ilir Meta, submitted the complete dossier on the subject of the National Theatre to the Constitutional Court. During his visit on July 25th the Secretary General of the OSCE, Thomas Greminger has stated he believes that “all parties” should wait for the decision of the Constitutional Court before proceeding with the issue of the National Theatre. Albania’s Constitutional Court has been defunct for over a year and has a backlog of tens of thousands of constitutional cases, many of which are by citizens against the government. On the same weekend, the first performance took place again on the stage of the National Theatre. At the beginning of the performance the audience shouted “Long live the theatre”, “Down with the dictatorship”, “Long live freedom”.
Sources: exit/Explaining Albania 25-07-2019, and 30-07-2019, FAZ 26-07-2019, TAZ 31-07-2019
Alternative for Germany, known as AfD, has intensified its political activities against public cultural institutions, mainly the city theatres. In many city parliaments the AFD has used the instrument of Parliamentary Inquiries, to question the work of the theatres and the public funding . AFD fuels also prejudices and moods against migrants. The New York Times (July 19th) has a report.