One of the main characters in the play 'Rare Earth Mettle' is a CEO of an electric car company, trying to monopolise the earth's resources - who was originally named Hershel Fink. Although there is no reference to the character being Jewish in the play, the choice of name for the megalomaniac billionaire was slammed by critics who complained it was anti-Semitic.
The theatre said in a statement that it was notified at the beginning of November by Jewish community members that the use of the Jewish name for a CEO on a "mission to save the world and...make millions of dollars in the process - risked perpetuating antisemitic tropes". The theatre said the playwright, Al Smith, immediately changed the name to Henry Finn.
In a tweet, the Royal Court described the naming as an example of "unconscious bias":
However, Weil and Kirkland have now pulled their funding for the Royal Court.
“Weil strongly condemns any form of anti-Semitism or discrimination whether conscious or unconscious, and we will be withdrawing our support for the Royal Court,” a spokesman for Weil told RollOnFriday. Weil was a 'gold' corporate sponsor, which is understood to have been worth around £12,000 a year to the theatre.
"We condemn in the strongest possible terms any and all forms of racism and discrimination, including anti-Semitism, and in light of the recent events, we were unable to continue our sponsorship," said a spokesman for Kirkland.
"I am pleased to see that firms see the equivocation of the Royal Court as unacceptable and their initial antisemitic actions as thoroughly reprehensible," Baron Mann, the adviser to the government on anti-Semitism told RollOnFriday, adding that he "congratulated" both firms "on their leadership."
The play started its run at the Royal Court on 10 November and it finishes on 18 December.
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