Lincoln Center Festival President Debora Spar has responded to a letter penned by a number of high-profile playwrights, actors, and directors calling for the cancellation of To the End of the Land. The production from Ha’bima National Theatre and the Cameri Theater of Tel Aviv, which sold out in Israel, will debut in the U.S. as planned July 24–27 as part of this summer’s Lincoln Center Festival.
Based on David Grossman’s novel of the same name, the play weaves together the stories of three Israelis who meet as teenagers in a hospital during the Six-Day War in 1967.
The letter, which is penned on behalf of Adalah-NY: The New York Campaign for the Boycott of Israel, states that the concern is not with the play itself, but that the production is presented with the support of Israel’s Office of Cultural Affairs in North America.
“It is deeply troubling that Lincoln Center, one of the world’s leading cultural institutions, is helping the Israeli government to implement its systematic 'Brand Israel' strategy of employing arts and culture to divert attention from the state's decades of violent colonization, brutal military occupation and denial of basic rights to the Palestinian people. We call on Lincoln Center to avoid complicity with Brand Israel by cancelling these performances by Ha’bima and Cameri,” reads the letter. Read the full letter here.
Among those to sign the letter of complaint are actors Greta Gerwig and Kathleen Chalfant; playwrights Annie Baker, Caryl Churchill, Halley Feiffer, Tracy Letts, Lynn Nottage, Bruce Norris, and Naomi Wallace; and directors Ken Loach and Sam Gold, among many more.
“While we acknowledge the feelings of those who would prefer that we not allow that performance to continue, we will not be canceling it,” Spar said in a statement. “Lincoln Center receives requests from time to time, from a variety of advocacy organizations, taking issue with either some of the performers we bring to campus or the work itself. As a cultural and education organization, however, we are committed to presenting a wide variety of artistic voices and trust that the art we bring can stand on its own.”
As previously announced, this year’s festival is focused on the theme of “Crossing Borders“ and features a number of productions from the Middle East. The festival kicks off July 10; visit LincolnCenterFestival.org for the complete lineup.