Free Osman Kavala!

Osman Kavala is in solitary confinement without charge in Istanbul for more than one year (see our post from November 21, 2017).

For over 30 years, he has been active in fostering culture and education in Turkey. As a member of numerous boards and president of the cultural institution »Anadolu Kültür«, which he founded 16 years ago, he’s constructed bridges in civil society from Turkey to Europe and neighbouring countries. The Turkish public prosecutor’s office has rejected four requests for his release. Like many other critical intellectuals in Turkey, he’s been subjected to untenable accusations: among other things, he’s been accused of participating in planning the attempted coup in July 2016. The European Court of Human Rights recently pre-accepted Osman Kavala’s application on the basis of Article 41 of its internal regulations.

Over 10,000 people have now signed a petition.

Sources:  Maxim Gorki Theater Berlin,  Solidarity platform for Osman Kavala

Actor sparks debate on access to affordable housing in Nigeria

Kelechi Udegbe, a budding Nigerian actor in the city of Lagos, features in the 6 part documentary drama series “Kelechi’s Quest” where he weighs his option of finding a suitable accommodation within his budget, thereby sparking a debate about new ways of accessing affordable accommodation and about the equitability of housing policies of Lagos State.

Source: Heinrich Böll Stiftung Nigeria

Wole Soyinka and Karima Bennoune public talk in New York

The Special Rapporteur in the field of cultural rights will be presenting her latest report to the UN General Assembly on Tuesday 23 October. On occasion of 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights Special Rapporteur Karima Bennoune and Nobel Prize Winner Wole Soyinka will talk on October 23 on relationship between the universality of human rights, cultural diversity and cultural rights.

The event will be broadcasted live through Facebook on 23 October at 3 pm (Eastern time).

“The Challenges of Artistic Freedom”: Symposium and Round Table with ACAR at Maribor Festival

On Tuesday, 23rd October 2018, a Symposium and a Roundtable with international participants, co-organized by the Slovene Centre ITI, the German Centre ITI, ACAR and the Maribor Theatre Festival in the frame of the 70th Anniversary of ITI Worldwide will take place in the scope of the 53rd Maribor Theatre Festival.

On this one-day event, prominent specialists and guests will discuss current themes of evaluating and treating artistic (or the artist’s) freedom, mainly focusinthe g on various forms of violation, (self-)censorship or the restriction of activity, creation, and expression. Nowadays, even in Europe, these limitations primarily appear as financial pressure, various prohibitions, sentences and forms of violence; they also hit close to home because of certain notorious events involving Slovenian artists and Slovenian theatre tours abroad. By presenting not only different cases and systems of monitoring such violations, but also the Freemuse report, we will also focus our round-table observations on the challenges of the future and possible solutions and awareness of the basic norms of democracy, so clearly stated in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, as well as in the constitutions and other legal documents of countries worldwide.

Among guest participants are Dr. Darko Lukić, theatre scholar, playwright and novelist, tenured professor at the Academy of Drama Arts University of Zagreb, as Keynote Speaker; Thomas Engel, managing director of the German Centre ITI and founding member of the ITI ACAR; Thomas Irmer, member of the German Centre ITI, scholar, critic and dramaturg, member of the ITI ACAR; Srirak Plipat, executive director of Freemuse; Tomasz Kireńczuk, dramaturg, theatre critic, programmer and art projects curator, programme director of the Nowy Theatre in Krakow and programme director for the International Theatre Festival Dialog – Wrocław; and others.

The event will take place in English, chaired by Tatjana Ažman, dramaturg, head of the Slovene Centre ITI and member of the Executive Council ITI Worldwide and Rok Andres, dramaturg and theatre researcher.

Iran arrested two over Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream

YouTube screenshot

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.

Sources: The Guardian, The National (AP), The Times of Israel

Berlin: Schaubühne’s theater shows canceled in China

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.

Sources (German): Suedeutsche Zeitung, Der Spiegel, nachtkritik.de, Deutsche Welle