The Globe Theatre is committed to bringing Shakespeare to the whole world — including Israel.
In 2012, the Globe invited Israel’s Habima theatre to perform the Merchant of Venice in Hebrew at its Globe to Globe festival. The invitation triggered the usual letters from the same list of artists demanding it be cancelled, as well as disruptions inside the theatre by anti-Israel protesters who booed, waved banners and shouted from the audience until they were removed. But the Globe refused to cancel the invite and dealt with the protesters appropriately.
The next stage of the Globe Theatre’s Globe-to-Globe project was for the Globe to perform Hamlet in every country in the world. In 2015, they staged it in Ramallah, the West Bank. In March 2016, it was Israel’s turn to host Hamlet at the Cameri Theatre in Tel Aviv.
The Cameri Theatre has been a boycott target in the past, after British director Peter Brook cancelled a play there in 2012.
Of course, one again the same artists signed the same letters in ritual denunciation. This time there was no UK event to disrupt, so Innovative Minds and other anti-Israel groups had to settle for a protest outside. The protest, on 25 March, attracted only ten protesters, but they unfurled their enormous banners and used their projector to project propaganda onto the outside of the Globe.
The Globe, though, once again handled the situation perfectly. Globe staff came out to talk to the protesters, but made it clear that the show must go on. And go on it did, on 30 March in Tel Aviv as planned.
The Globe has shown that you can stand up to the boycotters and put on successful cultural events both in the UK and Israel.