...by British playwright Caryl Churchill caused an almighty stink when it was rushed out in the wake of the misbegotten adventure in Gaza earlier this year. 8 minutes long, it is an (emphasis on the indefinite article) account of key moments in the history of the modern state of Israel, from the perspective of parents looking for the right way to articulate their fears and hopes to their children.
The play started a huge furore, with accusations of anti-Semitism countered by claims of the right to free speech, including the right to criticise Israeli policy in the Territories in the harshest of terms. Ms Churchill relinquished all rights to the play, on condition that all proceeds from performances be donated to charities helping the victims of the Gaza campaign.
Now, according to today's Ha'aretz, the play is to be staged at Kikar Rabin in Tel Aviv as part of the Hebrew Book Week, a reading directed by Skype and telephone by Arab Israeli director Samieh Jabbarin. (To understand why he cannot direct in person, read this.)
A few thoughts:
Ms Churchill, it must be said, is loudly partisan (she is a patron) so far as the disputes between Israel and its neighbours are concerned. But then, so are many other people.
The play, frankly, has little artistic merit. (Personal opinion. May not be worth the proverbial bucket of warm spit. But there you go...)
Most people subscribe the principle of Free Speech up until the point where the person speaking freely starts to say things they don't like. I struggle with this myself. An example: I think the British National Party, like all other citizens and their representatives, should have the right to talk about the ethnic balance of the United Kingdom. I, however, do not want to hear what they do have to say because I find their views personally repulsive. (The fact that I am directly affected by their proposals for voluntary repatriation obviously forms a part of this response).
Rights - such as the right to Free Speech - are inextricably intertwined with Responsibilities - such as the responsibility to tell the truth. Most people ignore this when it is convenient to do so.
Staging the play is, obviously, intended as a provocation. I do not say this in a necessarily negative sense - provocations can useful, to shake people out of their complacency - but nonetheless, I am a man for reasoned argument over shouting, evolution rather than revolution.
My opinion - This play - and the staging of this play tonight - is shouting. The people who will oppose it being staged will shout in return. Many people will miss the opportunity to engage with the issues, and instead take sides to fit their personal prejudices. That's a shame.
(I think I've linked to a reading of the play in the heading to this blog. If not, I blame my technical incompetence, and I'll do it again later.)
¿Cómo se desarrolla la boca del bebé?
3 weeks ago