Tag Archives: The Merchant of Venice

Protests outside Arts Depot against anti-Israel actor Miriam Margolyes.

Engaging a theatre-goer outside Arts Depot on Saturday night.

Engaging a theatre-goer outside Arts Depot on Saturday night.

Early Saturday evening a small group of pro-Israel activists stood outside Arts Depot in Finchley, north London handing out leaflets to people going into see Miriam Margolyes’ show Dickens’ Women.

The activists explained to them that Margolyes had signed a letter to The Guardian that asked The Globe to withdraw its invitation to Habima (The National Theatre of Israel) to give two performances of The Merchant of Venice as one of its 37 Shakespeare plays in 37 languages season.

The letter was silent on performances to be given by theatre companies from China, Russia, The Palestinian territories, Zimbabwe, Pakistan, Turkey etc. despite human rights atrocities in those places.

Only Israel was the subject of the letter on the ground that Habima had performed in a settlement and the letter ignorantly claimed that settlements are illegal. The letter concluded “We ask the Globe to withdraw the invitation so that the festival is not complicit with human rights violations and the illegal colonisation of occupied land.”

As it happens Habima went ahead with their shows in front of sold-out audiences on both nights in sharp contrast to the two shows given by the Palestinian theatre company who found that those who claim to be their friends aren’t.

The pro-Israel activists handed out over 100 leaflets outside Arts Depot. Most theatre-goers were happy to receive a leaflet and many came out to ask for one. Most didn’t know about Margolyes shameful politics of calling for boycotts of fellow actors and they agreed that she was wrong.

But some theatre-goers were, nevertheless, over-protective of Margolyes like the man in this clip who went for Jonathan Hoffman:

Margolyes is on a world tour so feel free to peacefully inform theatre-goers about her vile politics. Margolyes should count herself lucky that no one ever targeted her for a boycott over Britain’s involvement in Iraq.

Click here for the rest of her schedule in the UK and America.

I understand there will be another peaceful gathering outside Arts Depot on Sunday 24th June at 1.30pm for Margolyes’ 2.30pm performance. Please join.

Margolyes was fresh from Friday night’s appearance on The Graham Norton show on the BBC when she turned to Will.i.am and said that she was “fascinated” to meet him because he’s black!

Here it is, folks. Get ready to cringe:

ISRAELLYCOOL has blogged the protest under the headline “The Zionist Empire Strikes Back”.

Habima’s Merchant of Venice rocks London’s Globe Theatre

I really enjoyed last night’s performance of Habima’s The Merchant of Venice at The Globe on the south bank of the River Thames on a beautiful summer evening in London.

The cast received a prolonged standing ovation at the end (see above). The Globe was the perfect setting with its open roof allowing you to peer into the ever darkening sky as the constant movement of small planes readied you for the inevitable interruptions.

My main concerns were whether I would follow a play in Hebrew and whether the interruptions would ruin the experience, but two small screens kept us nicely updated in English and The Globe’s security knew when to act and when not to.

Security removed protesters swiftly so limiting the disruption but they allowed a very weird protest, where six protesters stood silently on the first balcony for virtually the entire first half with their lips taped up, to proceed.

First protest during last night's show.

First protest during last night’s show.

Second protest during last night's show.

Second protest during last night’s show.

The performance itself brought to the fore the comedy of The Merchant of Venice with a humourous gondola impression each time the action transferred to Venice, reminiscent of a sideways Moonwalk.

Seeing Shylock dispossessed of everything when Antonio’s defence lawyer finds a loophole in his contract with Shylock and watching Shylock forced to convert to Christianity to escape going to prison himself was maybe a Shakespearian premonition of the treatment in store for the Jews of Europe and Arab countries in the centuries to come.

In all there were some 20 protesters and I recognised two of them straight off.

Peter Scott recently tried to have me arrested and charged with harassment for doing nothing more than photographing him for my blog holding a Palestinian flag at an anti-Israel protest. Last night he donned a smart Panama hat. When I noticed him during the interval I pointed him out to security who, again, did nothing.

I went out to get a drink but when I came back two friends said that a man wearing a Panama had just been removed by security after he had approached them to discuss the disturbances. As they were talking to him they noticed he was wearing an electronic recording device on his lapel. Here is Scott during the interval:

I saw the following protester going into The Globe last night and when I called his name he looked round. I then called security but he made haste away from me until he was eventually caught by security and, out of breathe and shaking, gave a butter-wouldn’t-melt-in-my-mouth look.

I felt traumatised that I might have unjustly accused an innocent person and ruined his evening, but just before the interval he did unfurl a banner and was removed by security:

The protester about to be removed by Globe security last night.

The protester about to be removed by Globe security last night.

Meanwhile, the foyer was packed with police dealing with the protesters. In the top left corner here you can spot ubiquitous anti-Zionist activist Tony Greenstein:

Outside The Globe the Zionist Federation and Stand With Us had arranged a pro-Israel protest. There was also a pen for Palestine Solidarity Campaign activists. One PSC man had donned a mask with a big nose, but swore it wasn’t an anti-Semitic gesture.

I asked some of the PSCĀ  lot whether they saw the recent production of Richard II by the Palestinian theatre company also at The Globe. They said they didn’t as it was a matinee and they had work commitments. They must have conveniently failed to spot the Saturday performance at 7.30pm then; proof, if ever it was needed, that PSC activists don’t give a damn about the Palestinians.

Habima is expecting another packed house tonight and many thanks should be paid to The Globe, its security and the police for allowing the show to go on despite the efforts of those with ignorant views.

Meanwhile, the London Evening Standard described last night’s performance by Habima as “a tricky evening triumphantly negotiated” and The Times said it was “an evening to remember for reasons of art as well as politics”.

Photos from outside The Globe last night:

This is not an anti-Semitic gesture by a PSC comrade, apparently.

This is not an anti-Semitic gesture by a PSC comrade, apparently.

Having fun outside The Globe.

Having fun outside The Globe.

Sweet.

Sweet.

Precisely.

Precisely.