Protests against the Royal Shakespeare Company’s renewed partnership with energy giant BP are to continue, with organisers the Reclaim Shakespeare Company launching a public petition calling for the deal to be cancelled.
The move follows last year’s campaign against BP’s involvement with the RSC, which saw performances of five productions in Stratford and London disrupted during the World Shakespeare Festival. The sponsorship also saw the RSC’s playwright in residence Mark Ravenhill and actor Mark Rylance publicly questioning the appropriateness of the deal.
Earlier this week, the RSC revealed BP as the sponsor of RSC Key, its £5 ticket scheme for 16 to 25-year-olds.
Reclaim Shakespeare Company spokesperson Jess Worth said: “We were hoping that the new artistic director Greg Doran would listen to the concerns of theatregoers and actors and end the RSC’s relationship with BP. We are deeply disappointed to learn that this is not the case. We believe that BP is an immoral choice of sponsor, and we will continue to pop up unexpectedly at the RSC to make this point in creative and attention-grabbing ways for as long as the sponsorship deal continues”.
The protests follow in the wake of BP’s £3 billion fine – the largest in American legal history – for its role in the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in 2010 in which 11 rig workers lost their lives, and in the light of an imminent £1.6 billion investment in controversial tar sands oil extraction in Canada.
RSC communications manager Jane Ellis told The Stage: “We’re very much in support of people’s right to peaceful protest. Depending on what form those protests take we will try to accommodate them – as we did last year – and deal with them accordingly as and when they arise”.