Major sponsors are ditching the Royal Court theatre in London after it became embroiled in a toxic anti-Semitism row.
Corporate backers are pulling funding from Britain’s most famous radical theatre after it gave a billionaire villain a Jewish name.
Leading law firms Kirkland & Ellis and Weil, Gotshal & Manges condemned the racism and said they would no longer worked with the Sloane Square venue.
Following a backlash about ‘perpetuating antisemitic stereotypes’, The Royal Court was forced last month to amend its name and apologize.
Bosses said it would change Hershel Fink, a non-Jewish part featured in Rare Earth Mettle by Al Smith, to Henry Finn.
Following the award of a Jewish-named villain to Britain’s greatest radical theatre, corporate backingers pulled funding.
Leading law firms Kirkland & Ellis and Weil, Gotshal & Manges condemned the racism and said they would no longer worked with the Sloane Square venue (pictured)
But despite the move, Kirkland & Ellis and Weil, Gotshal & Manges told the BBC they were severing ties with the theatre.
Kirkland & Ellis said: ‘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.’
Weil, Gotshal & Manges added: ‘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.’
The firm was founded by three Jewish businessmen – Frank Weil, Sylvan Gotshal and Horace Manges – in New York City in 1931.
In the play Fink, who is the CEO of an electric car company that was compared to Tesla , is not Jewish and there is no reference to him being so in the show.
The Royal Court however, admitted that the name of the character was unconsciously biased and modified it.
After a massive backlash against the Royal Court’s ‘perpetuating anti-Semitic stereotype’, the Royal Court had to apologize and change the character’s name.
The play centres around a leading doctor who travels to Bolivia to solve the British mental health crisis and advance her career.
She is joined there by the Silicon Valley billionaire who believes he can save the world building affordable electric cars.
Jewish individuals and companies claimed Hershel fink was an ‘obviously Jewish’ name, and attacked the theatre online.
Twitter author David Baddiel: @royalcourt claims they did not know that Hershel Fink was Jewish.
‘Hmm. It just seemed so perfect for a billionaire who is destined to conquer the world. I have written a play.
“Everything” – especially now, and specifically about ethnicity – is a constant topic of discussion. Except, it seems, for one ethnicity.
‘Anyway. @royalcourt has admitted their unconscious biases and changed its name. This episode is still very informative.
Theatre director Adam Lenson said: The Royal Court’s Al Smith has created a character that is clearly based upon Elon Musk, and has given it a Jewish name.
“Casually becoming a Silicon Valley billionaire Jewish will perpetuate anti-Semitic stereotypes. It will also cause ideological harm.”
Interim Director of London’s Jewish Museum Frances Jeens added: ‘This image is a stereotype as it shows a Jewish person in a malevolent way, so it’s a racist depiction of a Jewish person – rich, controlling, in power.
“These stereotypes are very harmful and have been around for many centuries. They’re extremely hurtful to today’s Jewish community.”
David Baddiel stated that “everything, especially now and specifically about ethnicity-gets relentlessly discussed” during play’s creation.
According to the Royal Court, Hershel fink had been claimed by them in November that they didn’t know he was Jewish.
Later, however, it was discovered that the name of the character had already been mentioned in September.
The said in a statement: ‘On 8 November the leadership of the Royal Court was informed that the name had been raised by a Jewish director in a workshop discussion held as part of the series Directors: Working on New Plays in September 2021.
“We have been in conversation with the director and are now responsible for any reasons why it was not furthered or sent on to the writer.”
The Royal Court’s artistic director Vicky Featherstone has repeatedly ducked requests for an interview.
The theatre is also sponsored by Aqua Financial Ltd, Cadogan, Colbert, Edwardian Hotels London, Kudos, Sloane Stanley, Bloomberg philanthropies, and Left Bank pictures which are yet to comment.
Sister and Auriens refused to comment.
The theatre in London’s West End admitted the naming of the character was an example of ‘unconscious bias’ and it will be changed