Cultural Boycott in Edinburgh Fringe

"Kate Wilson" katecwilson

The Incubator Theatre company, which is partly funded by the Israeli government, has had its whole run at the Edinburgh Fringe cancelled after protests disrupted the first preview of its show,writes Thom Dibdin. The City, a “hip hop opera”, had been scheduled to run from July 30 to August 25 at the Underbelly Cowbarn venue in the Reid Hall on Bristo Square.

Following a demonstration at the venue during the show on Wednesday, Underbelly met with the company, the University of Edinburgh, which owns the Reid Hall, and Police Scotland. Announcing that the full run of the show would subsequently be cancelled, a statement from Underbelly said: “The logistics of policing and stewarding the protest around The Reid Hall – and the effect of the disturbance on Underbelly and other venues’ other shows – make it untenable for the show to continue in the Cowbarn, Reid Hall.”

Commenting on the cancellation, a spokesperson for Incubator Theatre told The Stage: “Unfortunately, the demonstration that took place alongside the performance was carefully designed to cause maximum disruption to artists and audiences in surrounding venues and to intimidate members of the public.”

Underbelly had previously voiced its support for the show, saying that while it was utterly appalled by the current situation in Gaza, it believes that all artists, from whatever creed or nation, must have the freedom of expression.

An open letter from more than 50 Scottish cultural figures, including the Makar Liz Lochhead, playwright David Greig and theatre directors Ben Harrison, Graham McLaren and Cora Bissett, was sent to Underbelly on July 18, urging the venue to cancel the show because of its funding from the Israeli Ministry of Culture.

According to Underbelly, Incubator Theatre receives about 20% of its income from the Ministry of Culture, but in the autumn of 2014, will stage Salim Salim with a cast of Israeli and Arab actors.

Underbelly and Incubator are currently looking for an alternative venue in which to stage performances of the show.