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Producer says Edinburgh should "hang its head in shame" after Israeli Fringe show is cancelled

The producer behind the Israeli show that was forced to cancel its Fringe run after protests said Edinburgh should "hang its head in shame" over the events.

He said the events that led to the closure of the show means the Fringe is "no longer an open access festival."

The City by Incubator Theatre lost its home, a venue at the Underbelly, after protests against the theatre company, which receives funding from the Israeli government.

In a strongly worded article for the theatre magazine The Stage, John Stalker, a producer and director in theatre for 30 years, and former chief executive of the Festival Theatre, says: "Is Edinburgh feeling any better as a result of the events of the past two weeks? I sincerely hope not.

"There should be a collective head hanging in shame.

"The Edinburgh Festival was itself created in the lee of the Second World War with a remit to provide 'a platform for the flowering of the human spirit' and enrich the cultural life of Scotland, Britain and Europe.

"The Fringe has grown into the largest open access arts festival in the world except that it is, from this year forward, no longer an open access festival. "Productions can only now come if they do not upset protestors of whatever cause happens to be raging in that moment.

"The Scottish Government, the city fathers and the festivals' authorities would be wise to learn a lesson that has been bitterly felt by five actors from Jerusalem."

He adds: "The hideous intolerance currently evident in the Middle East between and among communities that have to find a way of living together is unlikely to be eased by intolerance and brute force on the streets of Edinburgh.

"It panders simply to those who know the cost of everything and the value of nothing."

In the article he said that The City had been the "the first production in the history of the fringe to be emasculated by protests in this way.

"Edinburgh Festival Fringe has now capitulated to the forces of pro-Palestinian supporters and the production of The City ended its run almost as quickly as it began."

He adds, of the day of protest: "I witnessed at first hand a level of menace, intimidation and coercion that I had previously thought impossible to witness on the streets of Edinburgh."

In the article Mr Stalker refers to the letter signed by 50 arts figures who had called for Underbelly to cancel the show before it began.

"The task of enforcing the boycott was, surprisingly, not left to those who had summoned it. These included some prominent voices in the arts in Scotland, including our makar, Liz Lochhead, and playwright David Grieg, all of whom were, remarkably, absent on the day I have just described.

"No, this precious responsibility was passed on to the 'professionals' who had the simple objective of closing the show down."

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