London, The Merchant, and The Protests

Today was a heck of a day. First I got lost in Soho and ended up in Chinatown. While I did find a placed called Bubleology – sold Bubble Teas! And had my favorite flavor – honeydew melon, it was also exhausting so after a well-needed nap  I ventured back out into the hot sun to go to the Glove performance. I did first stop to get an adapter so pictures can be uploaded now! Which is good because I have hundreds of them – yea I couldn’t believe it either. But I’ve been snapping away as I walk down interesting streets and it’s part of my method of seeing London. I snap pictures of places I want to come back and spend more time at – or see a specific show/theater.

Something funny: Today a man in a restaurant thought I was a confused Londoner because of my accent. In a different scenario – in a store (and Allison you will like what’s coming home from this one) two guys told me that being here for so long means I will be kind of British by the time I go home. I will definitely have the accent and the slang by then since I’m halfway there already.

Anyways I forgot the performance tonight would be controversial. The play – Merchant of Venice performed in Hebrew by the Habima National Theater Group. They did a wonderful job – from what I could see – I was in an obstructed view seat. Which was interesting since I actually liked the angle a lot. I’ve realized I prefer the audience left/stage right position in the theater. If I was two or three seats right, it would have been perfect. For the show itself I was happy to be there as well. Many people in the crowd were uncomfortable as protests occurred. But I was safely within an actual box with 9 other viewers and a security guard.  I talked to a woman who had been a steward for 11 years and was very unhappy about the situation because the protesters were scaring “normal” people. Which made sense, it was really unsettling and it was pretty distracting – which displeased her as well. They had quite a few security guards though – probably 20 and this is not a large theater – pictures coming! In any case the play itself was done really well – they all wore the same color costume which really allowed the talent to shine. The emotion came through in sections that could be understood even if you didn’t know the plot line. And I know other patrons enjoyed it as well because I talked to a few and I overheard others discussing the production itself.

As a side note I’ve done some research and read up. Despite what side you ultimately come down on, my original assessment stands – this is not the time or place to protest. These are artists; not warriors, not fighters, they are not trying to hurt anyone. This is what a representative from the Globe said when asked about their decision (and asked to boycott/disinvite the group) and I completely agree. You can read more here:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/entertainment-arts-18242422

I also agree with the director of Habima when he says that artists should not boycott other artists in conjunction with the protests that more than one Arab group performs during the Globe to Globe festival. He’s right, it’s not right to only be disallowing Israelis on the stage. I have seen the Pakistanis perform. And they were wonderful, but so were the Israelis. And they have every right to share the stage. Further, I think this is irrelevant of the fact that Israel may or may not be wrong to allow settlements – this is extremely controversial and will remain so. Israel is not the only one fighting and acting like they are the only ones that is/could be wrong is wrong in itself.

Link to Habima director quote and article on the performance:

http://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/theatre-dance/features/artists-should-not-boycott-other-artists-7792465.html

So what I came to London to do is study theater. I have been told in the past that the stage can be a great, if not the best, place to create social change. And this experience really has brought that point home to me.

The picture is my view of the theater

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