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Caryl Churchill, Rufus Norris and Phyllida Lloyd among UK theatre figures condemning bombing of Gaza arts centre

Phyllida Lloyd (photo: Nick Harvey), Rufus Norris (photo: Paul Plews) and Caryl Churchill (photo: Marc Brenner) Phyllida Lloyd (photo: Nick Harvey), Rufus Norris (photo: Paul Plews) and Caryl Churchill (photo: Marc Brenner)
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Leading British theatre figures including Rufus Norris and Caryl Churchill have condemned the bombing of a cultural centre in Gaza by Israeli forces.

Norris, the director of the National Theatre, signed a letter in the Guardian alongside Royal Court artistic director Vicky Featherstone, David Greig, artistic director of the Royal Lyceum in Edinburgh, and the director Phyllida Lloyd.

The letter was also signed by a number of playwrights including Churchill, Mike Bartlett, Penelope Skinner, April de Angelis, EV Crowe, Stephen Jeffreys and Jonathan Chadwick.

In it they condemn the “total destruction” of the Said Al-Mishal Cultural Centre, which the letter describes as one of the few large venues for theatre and music in Gaza.

The building was bombed in an Israeli airstrike on August 9. Israeli forces said they targeted the building because they believed it was being used as headquarters by Hamas, a claim Hamas has since disputed.

The signatories say that as theatre practitioners they have worked closely with Palestinian artists and “support our dear friends and colleagues who describe their great rage and deep pain at the obliteration of this symbol of Palestinian culture and identity”.

“Since its establishment in 2004, Al-Mishal served as a home for hundreds of plays, ceremonies, exhibits, musical performances and national ceremonies. It was the venue of choice for theatre companies in Gaza and a space for Gaza’s top musical acts.

“The centre also included recreational activities for children who were affected by three successive wars in Gaza, including the first dabke school for 250 children. It is a devastating loss for the already isolated community,” the letter reads.

Further signatories include Elyse Dodgson, international director of the Royal Court, English Touring Theatre’s artistic director Richard Twyman and the director Sacha Wares.

“We support all efforts to continue Al-Mishal’s mission and the campaign for the centre’s reconstruction,” it says, calling on the British government and international community to take effective steps in de-escalating the situation in Gaza and protecting its citizens.

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