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Theater Artists Protest Cancellation of Black Lives Matter Benefit

A group of actors, playwrights and others in the theater world signed a letterprotesting the recent cancellation of a Black Lives Matter benefit concert at Feinstein’s/54 Below.

The protest was led by the Jewish Voice for Peace’s Artists and Cultural Workers Council, and the letter includes signatures from the playwright Annie Baker, the novelist Alice Walker, and the actors Wallace Shawn and Kathleen Chalfant.

Earlier this month, the owners of 54 Below decided to cancel the concert, set for Sept. 11, titled “Broadway Supports Black Lives Matter,” saying in a statement that they supported the Black Lives Matter movement but disagreed with a “platform that accuses Israel of genocide and endorses a range of boycott and sanction actions.”

The letter in response, which has been signed by more than 50 people, asserts that the cancellation “both undermines the visionary leadership of the Movement for Black Lives and contributes to the institutionalized silencing of advocates for Palestinian human rights.”

The letter continues: “We call on theater venues, artists, and supporters in New York City and beyond to proudly support the Movement for Black Lives and its inspiring solidarity with the Palestinian people.”

Other signers include the playwright Sarah Ruhl, the cabaret singer Justin Vivian Bond and the actress Tonya Pinkins.

In an interview, Ms. Chalfant said, “I was very distressed to discover that, in order to support one movement I thought was important, there was some kind of peculiar political test.”

“To be opposed to the action of the Israeli government is not the same thing as being anti-Semitic,” she said.

Some of the Black Lives Matter benefit performances were moved to a show on Sunday at Joe’s Pub, which sold out.

Source: nytimes

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