Media reported that Iranian authorities have arrested two artists over a production of William Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream after a promotional video posted on social media showed female actors dancing with male performers.
Prominent director, Maryam Kazemi, and the manager of the Teheran City Theatre, Saeed Assadi, were detained on September 9th. The play had already been showing for seven nights and only had one night left to run.
The “House of Theatre” in Teheran declaired its ofdficial protest against the detention after an extraordinary general meeting of its members on September 10. Both persons have been released after one night. Culture Minister Abbas Salehi later intervened to secure their release, according to state news agency IRNA, sparing them the bail of three billion rial (roughly $23,000 at the current unofficial rate) each, which had initially been demanded.
German-born actor and playwright Baris Atay was arrested by Turkish police officers two days ago. There was no reason announced for the arrest. Yet it can be seen as a reaction to critical remarks by Atay via twitter when he commented on Yusuf Yerkel, an advisor to president Erdogan.
Recently, after years of performing in his one-man show “Only A Dictator”, Baris Atay has also been banned from the stage in several Turkish cities.
An open letter, intitiated by Shermin Langhoff, artistic director of Maxim Gorki Theater Berlin, and signed by German and international artists and curators, calls for the immediate release of Osman Kavala.
Kavala, founder of Anadolu Kultur, was arrested in Istanbul on 18 October, allegedly having been involved in the attempted coup in July 2016.
After after spending 625 days in an Israeli prison without charge or trial (see ACAR posts 1, 2, 3, and 4) , Mohammed Abu Sakha, trainer and performer at Palestinian Circus School was released on 30 August and returned to his family. He was arrested at an Israeli checkpoint on 14 December 2015 on his way to work at the Palestinian Circus School, and held since then under a series of administrative orders. Israel’s Shin Bet security agency accused him of being a member of the leftist Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, which the Jewish state considers a terrorist group because of its armed wing. Abu Sakha denied the allegations and said Israeli forces never told him the exact reason for his arrest or how long he would be detained. His imprisonment had sparked a high-profile campaign for his release, with support from circus performers and activists around the world, with Amnesty international calling for him to be “charged with a crime or released”.
“It’s shocking to see how someone can be imprisoned for 21 months, without charge, and at the end be released without being charged with any crime at all. They took away 21 months of his life, and 21 months from those that needed him.” (Shadi Zmorrod, founder of the Palestinian Circus School).
Abu Sakha’s release came against the backdrop of a stark rise in the number of those newly detained without charge or trial by Israel.
John Freedman, theatre critic for The Moscow Times, provides analysis and background for the case against Russian director Kirill Serebrennikow as worldwide protest continues.
The Moscow Times also reported that Serebrennikow allegedly passed a letter to the German actor Lars Eidinger (Schaubühne Berlin) with instructions to publish in the case of his arrest. “Kirill did not send him anything and did not ask for any help,” Serebrennikow’s lawyer Kharitnov is cited, “We assume this is a provocation.”