The St. Louis Muny’s outdoor production of the Elton John musical Aida was halted August 9 after Black Lives Matter protesters interrupted the production on the second anniversary of the shooting death of unarmed black teenager Michael Brown.
According to The St. Louis American, additional police were called to the Muny after roughly 40 protesters disrupted the performance for 23 minutes. Actors were called off the stage, and the musical’s second act delayed its start by 20 minutes. Four protesters were arrested.
The protesters dropped a banner that read: “The Muny says Black Lives Matter.”
The musical, which is inspired by the opera of the same title, deals with themes of oppression and enslavement. The St. Louis American reported that the protesters, who sang for 10 minutes before voluntarily leaving the theatre, were met with shouts of “Get a job” and “All lives matter.”
In a call for understanding, Aida cast members Ken Page and Michelle Williams took to the stage to address the audience following the disruption and asked the audience to open their spirits and hearts and to allow for the performance to continue without interruption.
“We protested at The Muny because it was necessary,” rapper Tef Poe told the St. Louis American. “The play Aida is layered with several racial undertones which mirror the problems we currently face. We mourn for the victims of all senseless acts of violence. This is not a matter of compassion; it is a matter of challenging systemic racism.”
The Muny tweeted:
Tonight's action at The Muny : August 9th 2016 . Still fighting . pic.twitter.com/Tsk3rfnO1a— Hands Up United (@handsupunited_) August 10, 2016
The Muny production stars Michelle Williams as Aida opposite Zak Resnick as Radames and Taylor Louderman as Amneris.