Theatreland elite voices chorus of dissent as war draws closer
By Paul Peachey
15 February 2003
The threatened invasion of Iraq has brought together a cast list to make any Hollywood producer weep with joy. From the leading ladies Julie Christie and Dame Judi Dench and their male counterparts Ralph Fiennes and John Hurt, to a hugely impressive supporting cast, the luvvies have turned out in strength to oppose the war.
London's theatreland made its voice heard yesterday in one of the many events organised by cultural figures from Britain and abroad against the military build-up.
Seventy singers went on stage at the Criterion Theatre, in central London, to sing 'Seasons of Love' from the musical Rent. Most of those performing, from the shows Les Miserables, Chicago, Rent, Lion King and Taboo, will be on stage when today's anti-war demonstration takes place in the capital. Jason Gardiner, the event's organiser and a performer in the musical Anything Goes, said: 'We are pro-life. We are sending a peaceful message of love. We were upset that we could not support the march on Saturday and that's why we got together for the song.'
Figures from the artistic community featured prominently in two full-page advertisements listing hundreds of high-profile personalities against the war over the past two days. They include the musicians Craig David, Damon Albarn and Jarvis Cocker; the writers Nick Hornby, Harold Pinter and David Hare; the film-makers Mike Leigh and Terry Gilliam; the artists Sam Taylor-Wood and Damien Hirst and the actors Dustin Hoffman and Sinead Cusack.
Other anti-war events include Poets Against the War at the Bloomsbury Theatre in London, where all 550 tickets were sold out before last night's performance.
Among the poets reciting their work were Benjamin Zephaniah and Michael Rosen, an organiser who was to read 'Right, Class Six', a poem he wrote about a teacher trying to explain to her pupils the reasons why the Gulf War was fought.
Rosen said: 'It's both protest and solidarity. This is our way of showing protest by reading poems which might be anti-war or anti-this particular war. We are expressing our wish to be part of this amazing and incredible movement.'