Royal Court to stage ‘Jews. In Their Own Words’ show

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Royal Court to stage ‘Jews. In Their Own Words’ show

The Sloane Square theatre has been criticised over its portrayal of Jews in the past, but new play includes author Jonathan Freedland, Luciana Berger, Howard Jacobson and others

Lee Harpin is the Jewish News's political editor

Royal Court Theatre
Royal Court Theatre

London’s Royal Court Theatre has announced it is staging a production based around verbatim accounts from leading members of the community on being Jewish to the journalist and author Jonathan Freedland.

The show, which is titled Jews. In Their Own Words includes interviews with former MP Luciana Berger, author Howard Jacobson, the Community Security Trust’s Dave Rich and Labour’s Dame Margaret Hodge, Simon Schama amongst others, on their experiences in the UK.

The production is co-directed by Vicky Feathersone, the Royal Court’s artistic director, who was at the centre of criticism over claims of antisemitism in a recent production staged at the famous theatre.

Announcing the production, based around an idea from actress Tracy-Ann Oberman, on Monday, the Royal Court said:”Jews have been talked about a lot in recent years.

“Now they get to speak for themselves.”

It will run from the 19th of September until October 22nd, with a post-show tag scheduled for October 11th.

Featherstone said the idea was “fast-tracked” due to concerns over issues around antisemitism at the theatre.

The theatre added Freedland has created a “searing and incisive play looking at the roots and the damning legacy of antisemitism in Britain.”

In an interview with the Guardian on Monday Featherstone said:”“We agreed that the verbatim form was the right one and that it would be, as Jonathan has said, Jews speaking in their own words – people being able to talk about their own experiences, a lot of which they’ve felt they have been silenced on, or told they were making up. It will be hard-hitting and satirical – a serious piece of event-theatre.”

It is hoped the play gives a “complex, detailed understanding of where antisemitism sits in our culture, in a way that we choose not to see if we’re not Jewish,” Featherstone told the newspaper.

Last November the Royal Court was at the centre of an antisemitism row a
after a lead character in the play Rare Earth Mettle was given the name of Hershel Fink.

The character was a Silicon Valley billionaire, who was not actually Jewish in the script.

The Royal Court issued an apology after the production prompted angry complaints about Jewish stereotyping and accepted there had been “unconscious bias.”

It was the latest in a strong of controversies to involve the Sloane Square theatre.

Jewish News revealed EastEnders actress Oberman had met with Featherstone to discuss the fall out from the row.

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