Article published : Tuesday, October 8th, 2019 (12:30 pm)
To BP or not BP.. Would Shakespeare have taken oil company money? The RSC has finally turned its back on BP funding after actor Mark Rylance said it is what the Bard would have wanted. But as Simon Callow points out – the playwright was hardly a model of corporate social responsibility What, as Falstaff might say, a lot o’ ’pother. The Royal Shakespeare Company made waves last week by announcing that it would no longer take sponsorship from BP – ending a controversy that has dragged on longer than the most agonised production of Hamlet. Three years ago, Tate became the first major arts organisation to distance itself from the energy giant, leading to calls for others to clean up their act. Activists mounted protests and stage invasions. In the summer, Mark Rylance disassociated himself from the RSC, claiming that, if the Bard had any say in the matter, he would turn his back on dirty money too. Last week, the company finally caved. Applause all round?Not exactly. Writing in the Times, Rylance’s fellow Shakespearean Simon Callow has delicately pointed out that the Bard’s own hands weren’t exactly clean. Not only did the playwright and his colleagues take money from the dictatorial regime of King James I, they contentedly played at court for the monarch and his cronies, few of whom were fussy about human rights. Shakespeare’s troupe even renamed itself in honour of the new monarch, becoming the King’s Men almost immediately after James took power in 1603. Continue reading...
Author : Andrew Dickson