An open letter to the Leicester Square Theatre
artistic director Mr Martin Witts
The show you won't see!
Dieudonné's London performance has been
by the Leicester Square theatre
29th October 2009
Dear Mr Witts,
I read in this week's Jewish Chronicle that you have cancelled the show by the French comedian Dieudonné, scheduled for next March at your Leicester Square Theatre, due to his recent conviction for "insulting" content during his show at the Zenith in Paris last December.
Since Dieudonné was fined twice for similar "insults" in 2007, it is mildly surprising that you found him acceptable last week, but unacceptable this week.
More disturbing is the peculiarity that your theatre, which made its name as a punk venue in the 1970s, should find "insulting" content unacceptable in a comedian.
Or perhaps it is Dieudonné's criminal record (albeit for offences which do not exist in English law) which concerns you. Yet how can this be so after in 2002 your theatre proudly staged the world premiere of the musical Taboo by 'Boy George' (aka George O'Dowd)?
Mr O'Dowd was arrested and fined for possession of heroin in 1986. More recently he has been convicted in the New York courts, and in 2009 was given a 15 month jail sentence for assault and false imprisonment.
Since some of these offences took place after your theatre's association with Mr O'Dowd, and you may have been unaware of the others, would you take this opportunity to confirm that - in the interests of logical consistency - your theatre now dissociates itself from 'Boy George' and from any other artiste with a criminal record (whether incurred in the UK or overseas)?
For that matter I understand that in 1983 you were given a two year suspended prison sentence yourself, Mr Witts, after breaking into a department store in York.
Or is insulting Jews the only crime that counts? Perhaps your views are influenced by the eleven months you spent delivering tanks for the Israeli army during the 1982 Lebanon war, assisting master criminals while evading trial for your own petty crimes in the English courts. As the Israeli army stood by and encouraged the massacres in the Sabra and Shatila camps, you were delivering tanks to these notorious war criminals.
Many people might think that Dieudonné is well rid of any association with you, Mr Witts.
The Israelis might call your conduct chutzpah, the rest of us call it odious hypocrisy.