Dave Rich at the CST.
In February 2009, the playwright Caryl Churchill wrote a short play, called Seven Jewish Children, as her “response to the situation in Gaza” the previous month. The play is explicitly about Jewish parents and children (Jews are mentioned in the title and the text, whereas the word “Israeli” does not appear once in the play); but in attempting to explore Jewish attitudes towards children, both Jewish and Palestinian, Churchill achieved little more than to reflect the febrile atmosphere of the time, in which antisemitic incidents in this country reached an all-time high and public demonstrations against Israel regularly became violent.
If Churchill’s play was her response to events in Gaza, she was not the only writer to be so inspired: Howard Jacobson wrote his Man Booker Prize-winning novel, The Finkler Question, in part as a response to the response to Gaza. While the period of the Gaza conflict has now passed and tempers cooled somewhat, Seven Jewish Children is still regularly put on by pro-Palestinian groups, refuelling their activism and providing a literary basis for their ongoing anti-Israel politics. One of the most eye-catching locations for an upcoming production of the play is Lincoln, the location of one of the most notorious episodes in English antisemitism; an episode which provided one of the earliest works in the canon of English literary antisemitism.
According to the website of the Palestine Solidarity Campaign, Seven Jewish Children will be performed in Lincoln on 11th April, at the University of Lincoln’s Performing Arts Centre. Not only is the University providing the venue: according to PSC, the play is organised by the University of Lincoln’s School of Performing Arts and School of Humanities. The play is not advertised on the website of the Performing Arts Centre, but it may be connected to a symposium on Caryl Churchill’s work being held at the University five days later. Read the rest of this entry »