Monday, 23 April 2012


World Shakespeare festival

Oiling the wheels of the Shakespeare festival, Sunday 22 April 2012 21.00 BST

Today, 23 April, is Shakespeare's birthday and marks the launch of the World Shakespeare festival (Review, 21 April). Yet what should be an unabashed celebration of Shakespeare's continued relevance to our world has been sullied by the fact that the festival is sponsored by BP. While the aftermath of the Deepwater Horizon spill continues to devastate ecosystems and communities, and the highly polluting extraction of tar sands oil brings us rapidly closer to the point of no return from climate change, we feel that BP has no place in arts sponsorship.

We, as individuals involved in theatre and the arts, are deeply concerned that the RSC – like other much-cherished cultural institutions – is allowing itself to be used by BP to obscure the destructive reality of its activities. We would like to see an end to oil sponsorship of the arts and are committed to finding more responsible ways to finance this country's cultural life, for our own and future generations.
Mark Rylance Actor, writer and playwright
Moira Buffini Playwright
Van Badham Playwright
Jo Tyabji Director and actor
Rod Dixon Red Ladder Theatre Company
James Bolam Actor
Sue Jameson Actor
Lisa Wesley Artist and theatre-maker
Arabella Lawson Actor
Harry Giles Environment officer, Festivals Edinburgh
Professor Stephen Bottoms Chair of drama and theatre studies and director of the Workshop Theatre, University of Leeds
Andy Field Co-director, Forest Fringe
Daniel Balla Producer, Gaia Theatre Collective; director, Coexists Events Space
Tom Worth Producer of the Globe's Hamlet on Tour documentary
Lucy Jameson Gaia Theatre
Simon Lys Gaia Theatre
Leo-Marcus Wan Actor
Tim Jeeves Artist and writer
Phil Maxwell Director
Hazuan Hasheem Director
Sue Palmer Contemporary performance maker and artist
Stephen Duncombe Associate Professor, New York University, Gallatin School of Media, Culture & Communications, Center For Artistic Activism
Kenny Young Songwriter, musician, founder of Artists Project Earth
Ana Betancour Professor, architect, artist
John Volynchook Photographer
Leila Galloway Artist and senior lecturer
Dr Wallace Heim Academic and former set designer
Tracey Dunn Film-maker and community tv broadcaster


BP or not BP? That is the question
If oil be the fuel for us, drill on
All that glisters is not gold
Action is eloquence

BP or not BP
BP or not BP? That is the question

At a time when the world should fear much more the heat of the sun and the furious winter’s rages, BP is conspiring to distract us from the naked truth of climate change, and by pursuing a future powered by more and more extreme fossil fuels, like tar sands, deepwater drilling and Arctic exploitation, with its daring folly burn the world.
Something is rotten in the state of Stratford

The Royal Shakespeare Company have chosen to put BP’s money in their purse. Yet he’s mad that trusts in the tameness of a wolf. BP is doing everything in its power to let not the public see its deep and dark desires – fossil fuel expansion and ecological devastation. BP is the harlot’s cheek, beautied with sponsoring art. It is the greenwash monster, which doth mock the meat it feeds on, and the RSC have made themselves complicit in its crimes. If this were play’d upon a stage now, we could condemn it as an improbable fiction!
Enough! No more!

Times are tough. Ay, there’s the rub. But all that glisters is not gold. And whilst comparisons are odorous, we do well remember the dropping of tobacco companies as sponsors by a host of cultural institutions. The arts continued, and so shall the RSC, freed from the grasp of this smiling damned villain. Once more unto the breach, dear friends, once more!
We believe that action is eloquence

We say to the RSC: to thine own self be true. Be nothing if not critical and forgo your damaging relationship with BP.