Riverside Studios signs up to the anti-war brigade

Feature by Paul Nelson

WILLIAM Burdett-Coutts, artistic director of Riverside Studios, is proud to announce that Riverside Studios has become the first UK member of Theatres Against War (THAW).

THAW is a New York-based coalition of theatres, performing artists and anti-war activists alarmed by the threat of war in Iraq and escalating attacks on civil liberties in the US. Since its inception in December 2002, the network has grown to over 120 theatres in New York with international members from Thailand, Malaysia and Japan.

Discussions are now underway within the London Theatre Community about creating a similar coalition in the UK, in co-ordination with THAW (US).

THAW was a significant presence during the day of global protest on February 15 and organised citywide theatrical anti-war events on March 2, 2003, including curtain speeches written for THAW by playwrights such as Tony Kushner and Caryl Churchill.

"The idea of THAW," said Sally Eberhardt, one of its founders, "was to give theatre groups and people, many of whom are not activists with a capital A, a different more comfortable environment to express their opposition to the war."

Conversations with CJ Hopkins, author of Horse Country and member of THAW (US), currently in the UK for the London premiere of the play at Riverside Studios, led to Mr Burdett-Coutts' decision to make this statement:

"The nature of great theatre, like Horse Country, challenges the imagination and inspires the soul. This completely contradicts the imminence and purpose of this US led war which can only breed hatred and continue conflict for generations to come. It is therefore an easy decision to join THAW and sympathise withmany US theatre companies that have begun this coalition."

'Hearing the drumbeat of a new war, through readings, concerts, art exhibitions and theatre, artists are trying to recapture their place as catalysts for public debate and dissent' -
New York Times, Julie Salamon, February 6, 2003

For more information about THAW (US) visit www.thawaction.org, or for the Riverside Studios website, click here...