Greig kickstarts funding after closure

August 2, 2014 | By More

Playwright creates positive outcome from Israeli Theatre cancellation

Playwright David Greig, one of the 50 signatories to the letter calling for Underbelly not to programme Israeli state-supported Incubator Theatre at the fringe, has reacted to this week’s cancellation of the show with a new Kickstarter fund for Israeli and Palestinian theatre makers.

David Greig. Photo by K Ribbe

David Greig. Photo by K Ribbe

In an email to theatre writers and critics on Saturday, 2 August, Greig expressed his disquiet at the negativity of the outcome of this week’s events and proposed a the fund to support theatre makers who reject all state support from Israel and Palestine.

“Over the last few days I have felt very dispirited,” he said. “The violence in Gaza is unbearable. It feels poisonous to be a bystander. To respond with protest is important but it is also eroding of the heart to only be involved in saying ‘No’. I wanted to create something which had a ‘yes’ in it.”

His immediate response is twofold. He has written a heartfelt piece on his Front Step blog, building from his own experiences of theatre in Palestine to outline his reasons for calling for Underbelly not to programme Incubator.

He has also set up Welcome To The Fringe fund on Kickstarter, with the aim of raising £10,000 by the end of August to give grants to Palestinian theatre makers to come to the Edinburgh fringe. It would also help Israeli artists who take a stand and reject state sponsorship.

Greig adds: “It’s a shot in the dark but it’s presented in the hope that ultimately I can bring together a group of people who can forge some sort of fund which will bring Palestinian artists to Edinburgh. I also want to offer some support to those Israeli artists who reject state sponsorship.”

Stating that the idea is his alone – “I can float the balloon and see if it flies. If it does, then great. If it doesn’t, the embarrassment is mine alone” he says – Greig emphasises that he will need support.

“If the idea has any traction it would, of course, need to become a group project and I would need huge amounts of advice and help as to how to make it work, get it legal and transparent and so on.”

On Wednesday (July 30), the Incubator Theatre company, which is partly funded by the Israeli government, had its whole run at the Edinburgh fringe cancelled after protests disrupted the first preview of its show.

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 Edinburgh University which owns the  Reid Hall, and Police Scotland and subsequently announced that the run was cancelled.

An open letter initiated by Daily Telegraph theatre critic Mark Brown and signed by more than 50 Scottish cultural figures, including Greig and the Makar Liz Lochhead, was sent to Underbelly on July 18, urging the venue to cancel the show because of its funding from the Israeli Ministry of Culture.

Writing on the Kickstarter funding page for Welcome to the Fringe Greig says: “The Edinburgh Fringe is my favourite place in the world. It is a place of welcome and refuge. I don’t want it to become a showplace where the regimes of the world come to whitewash violence with art.

“I want it to be a place where politics and truth can be spoken in the open. I want it to be a place where the unheard are finally heard. I hope you feel able to support me in this.”

David Greig’s Blog on Welcome to the Fringe: www.front-step.co.uk

The Kickstarter Welcome to the Fringe page: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/307277511/welcome-to-the-fringe

ENDS

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