Vandals target Belfry Theatre amid controversy over upcoming play

CHEK
The Belfry Theatre is pictured on Dec. 24, 2023.

Stickers and graffiti reading “Free Palestine” appeared at the entrance of the Belfry Theatre in Victoria this week, as controversy surrounding an upcoming play continues.

Hundreds of people have voiced disapproval of the Belfry and its plan to host a play called The Runner, which centers around an Israeli volunteer with Orthodox Jewish volunteer group Z.A.K.A.

The one-man play features the main character, Jacob, saving a Palestinian woman after an incident of violence, and leaving a mortally injured Israeli soldier behind, according to the Belfry’s description of the play.

On Dec. 19, an online petition was launched calling on the Belfry to not show the play. As of Sunday afternoon, it had reached nearly 1,000 signatures.

“It is unacceptable that this story is being told while Palestinians are being killed and displaced by the Israeli Defense Forces in plain sight for the world to see,” reads the online petition.

Meanwhile, a rally was held outside the theatre on Friday, with attendees calling on the Belfry to pull the show from its schedule in March.

On Saturday, another online petition was started voicing support for the theatre and calling for it to host the play as originally planned.

As of Sunday afternoon, the petition had reached nearly 500 signatures.

In a statement on Dec. 19, the Belfry said it was listening to community concerns and was still considering its next steps.

“We have been having many complex conversations about the production, its content, and its impact on the community,” said the theatre.

“We are taking time to reflect on how best to move forward and will make an announcement in the new year.”

The Belfry added that copies of the script of The Runner would be available at its box office after Jan. 8.

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