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Play in response to controversial drama

PUBLISHED: 15:57 30 April 2009 | UPDATED: 16:09 07 September 2010

Richard Stirling writer of the new play at New End Theatre , called

Richard Stirling writer of the new play at New End Theatre , called "Seven Other Children"

© Nigel Sutton 17 Redington Rd,London,NW37QX. Phone 020 7794 3008. email pictures@nigelsuttonphotography.com

Rowan Larsen A NEW play written in response to a controversial and anti-Semitic drama is being staged in Hampstead. Seven Other Children is playwright Richard Stirling s answer to Caryl Churchill s play Seven Jewish Children. Staged at the New End Theat

Rowan Larsen

A NEW play written in response to a controversial and "anti-Semitic" drama is being staged in Hampstead.

Seven Other Children is playwright Richard Stirling's answer to Caryl Churchill's play Seven Jewish Children.

Staged at the New End Theatre, Seven Other Children voices the tragedy of the Palestinian child as a victim of a distorted education about Israel and the hate that continues to grow.

Seven Jewish Children, written in reaction to the conflict in Gaza in January, was premiered at the Royal Court Theatre in Sloane Square in February.

The play was branded "anti-Semitic" by the Jewish Chronicle although some looked on it as a "criticism of a criticism".

Actress Maureen Lipman felt so strongly about the "unbalanced" view that she and more than 60 other leading British

Jews wrote to the Royal Court to complain.

Ms Churchill's 10-minute play consisted of seven short scenes following moments in Israeli history from the Holocaust and the foundation of the state of Israel up to the present day.

It deals with how parents and adults explain the moments to an absent child. "Don't frighten her. Tell her only a few of us have been killed," says one parent in the play.

Mr Stirling started writing his play straight after seeing it.

He said: "My directive is not so much against Caryl Churchill - but more against the Royal Court Theatre."

His play opens with readings from letters exchanged between himself and Royal Court Theatre director Dominic Cooke over whether a response was required to Ms Churchill's play.

It takes the same format as Ms Churchill's play but gives the Israeli point of view which he felt was ignored.

Mr Stirling also enlisted the help of Ms Lipman, who used to live in Muswell Hill but has now moved to Paddington, to oversee it. He said: "She was very focused and was happy to help me as I am a non-Jew with no obvious axe to grind with the play.

"I didn't go with Churchill's line of argument that Jews are victims. Is she arguing about Israeli government policy or the mindset of the Israelis?

"It is one thing to argue about government policy but another thing to make the jump in eight minutes from the Jews as victims of the Holocaust to make the character voice sentiment representing Israeli people's addiction to occupation."

There will be a collection at the end of each performance for OneVoice, a charity which puts pressure on both sides of the conflict.

The play has an international cast, including How Do you Solve A Problem Like Maria? finalist Simona Armstrong.

It runs from May 5 to 16, starting at 9.50pm.


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