ArtistsAgainstTheWar

About Us


Home

Events & Activities

Contacts

Bulletins

Founding Statement of Artists Against the War

we resolve to:
• participate in the broad movement of people against this war
• resist all forms of censorship and disinformation about this war and attacks on civil liberties
• speak out against this war using every possible media
• change hearts and minds through art which opposes this war
• help to create the international movement against this war and oppose national chauvinism, racism and all forms of bigotry

Artists Against the War meet fortnightly on Sundays at THE FOUNDRY,
84-86 Great Eastern Street, London EC2 at 2.30 pm
Email address:
artistsagainstthewar@hotmail.com

If you do live in London or are visiting, it would be great to see you on Sunday at The Foundry or send us any thoughts/ideas/events you are hosting and we can let everyone else know and feed it all back to the Stop the War coalition.


Article from The Stage 22nd November, 2001

Artists Against the War
by Aleks Sierz

In a climate of political apathy, when fewer and fewer people vote, some events still stir the passions – and mobilise the politically committed. One of the responses to the current bombing campaign against Afghanistan has been the formation of Artists Against the War, a loose coalition of writers, actors, artists and film-makers.

Founder member Lisa Goldman, director of the Red Room theatre company, says, “When the bombing started, I got more and more upset and angry.” So she talked to actor Tam Dean Burn and fellow Red Roomer Emma Schad “about getting something going”.

Using email, they contacted a number of people, and held their first meeting on 14 October at the Foundry, a club in London’s Old Street. About 35 people attended and ideas for activities include an 18ft puppet effigy of President Bush, with a tiny figure of Tony Blair in his pocket, to be made by theatre director Mervyn Millar.

Artists Against the War is part of the wider Coalition to Stop the War, and banners are being made for the next major demonstration on 18 November. A stall has been set up outside the Tate Modern gallery on London’s Southbank and exhibitions of art are being organised.

“In a way,” says Goldman, “the length of the war – it looks as if, horribly, it will drag on – gives artists time to create larger and more complex responses.”

The Coalition to Stop the War held a benefit at the Royal Court on 4 November, which raised £2,000, and included a staging of Caryl Churchill’s Far Away and Kika Markham reading Tony Kushner’s Homebody Kabul. “We are led by the grassroots, but welcome any help we can get from celebrities,” says Goldman.

The overall aim is “to change hearts and minds”. But isn’t this an uphill struggle? “Look at Vietnam, and the way artists opposed that,” says Goldman. “You’re always open to the accusation of being naive, but the point is that things never change unless individuals take a stand.”

One writer who has done just that is Rebecca Prichard, whose play Yard Gal was a Royal Court hit in 1998. She says, “I'm involved with the project because I’ve felt this tension brewing for a long time, this collective sense of dis-ease.”

She feels that “war against terrorism” is just one example of the way a loss of faith in democracy is expressed through racial violence. “When people don’t have a voice – whether they are terrorists or just poor – they become violent and caricature their own identity.”

She’s part of the “antiwarheadz live” project which involves theatre in public places. “We’re setting up an website (antiwarheadz@yahoogroups.com) which playwrights can subscribe to and get updates on all the theatre projects,” she says.

At the moment, writer Kay Adshead is writing a play which can be broken up into “portable pieces” – short 2-mins or 10-mins bites – and then performed in public. Inspired by Artists Against the War, Tony Craze is writing an hour-long play.

More subversive is the use of Augusto Boal’s idea of invisible theatre, where a scene is enacted without telling the public that it’s a show. “We want loads of ‘public scenes’ going off throughout the UK,” says Prichard, “to engage, provoke and empower public response to the war.”

She also hopes “there will be some cross-fertilisation between artistic projects”, for example, between musicians and performers or between writers and visual artists. “Such collaboration could be inspirational to all involved.”

Prichard agrees that theatre in public “has a slightly didactic or soapbox image” but argues that “that does not have to be the case”. In the end, “it is very personal how artists engage with the public: scenes can be humorous, intimate, confrontational, provocative, subtle. We’ll perform anything related to the war almost anywhere.”

Why use theatre? “It’s a perfect vehicle,” says Prichard. “At the heart of theatre is democracy because the audience is always an unnamed character in the play which affects the performance – they are witnesses to the debate..” She feels a responsibility “to be some kind of counterweight (or perhaps just a pain in the arse?)” to the pervasive media bias in favour of war. “This war is inhumane,” agrees Goldman. “Its objectives are unclear, and it’s causing more problems than it’s solving.”

She’s appalled by the prospect of seven million people starving as a result of the campaign. “I can’t see how you can justify that,” she says. “For artists, who are working on a level of human empathy, there’s an implicit vision of a better world.”

She’s not soft on the Taliban – “a repressive and vicious regime” – but argues that “that doesn’t justify bombing the fuck out of them”. Goldman says that while many writers have expressed interest in the campaign, they still need some more performers. “I think change always begins with individuals making brave choices, and giving some of their time and taking the risk of being mocked or unpopular.”

Prichard says, “Any actors who want to support the anti-war project would also be very welcome. We’re hoping some people might find the opportunity to do something different is a refreshing element of the project.”

Initial supporters

Kevin Williamson (Rebel Inc)
Lisa Goldman (The Red Room)
Emma Schad (The National Theatre)
Tam Dean Burn
John McGrath
Angeline Ferguson (Delta Video)
Johny Brown
The Band of Holy Joy (Rough Trade Records)
Jeremy Hardy
Mervyn Miller (Wireframe)
Rob Spragg (Larry Love - Alabama 3)
Gerry Collinge (Apples and Snakes)
Dic Edwards
John Wild (Art Tendency Against Capitalism)
Mamuka Juphanidu
Izzy Mant (Theatre Machine)
Polly Wiseman (Fireraisers)
Nathan Evans
Rebecca Prichard
Maxine Peake
Smith
Neil Monghan
Joe Licky
Laurence Cliffe
John Chris Jones
Sherryl Yanowitze
Jo Dyer
Carl Taylor
Richard Garratt
Evans
Leon Kuhn
Tassos Stevens (Lion & Unicorn)
Michael Ditch-Finn
Anthea Nicholson
Richard Peacock
Sarah Hart
Penny Gold
Ana Andrejic
Valerie Rose
Tony Craze
John Walker (University of Manchester)
Roney Fraser Munro (K3 Media)
James Nye (Zinc Stoat)
Judy Upton
Rob Young
Kay Adshead
Noma Dumezweni
Emma Mongan (Swing Me High Dance Co.)
Titania Krimpas
Russell Edward
Vanessa Richards (Mannafest)
Louise Chantal (Soho Theatre)
Andrew Kennedy
Kulvinder Singh
Linda Revill (Green Room Arts)
Diana Gibbz
Paul Brunton (Dance Space)
Robert Allwood
Rachel Smith
Sarah Morgan
China Mieville
Athena Mandis
Paul Hill
Michael Harding
Mamuka Japharidze
John Chris Jones
Peter Anderson
Carmel Stoney
Andy Ridley.

Go to the top of the page