Egad! Wilst they never learn? Last night, the British Museum (in partnership with the RSC) ran an event called “Shakespeare Late”, which featured such delights as musical performances, stage make-up workshops and sonnet-themed scavenger hunts around the galleries. Splendid stuff, except that they’d gone and ruined it by getting it sponsored by that artless flax-bellied swag-wench BP.
Of course, we couldn’t let them get away with that, so the Reclaim Shakespeare Company decided to add ourselves to the bill, with some pop-up anti-BP Shakespearean performances around the Great Court. We strolled in as normal punters, then got changed into our costumes in the toilets and emerged to seek our audience!
The milling crowds were all too happy to pause and watch as we launched into a few of our greatest Shakespearean hits. After all, this was just the sort of thing they were expecting to see…until it became clear that we were referring to the evening’s main sponsor as a “savage villain” who was trying to “turn our dreams to nightmares”, and then entreating them to rip the BP logo from their museum brochures. As realisation dawned, grins broke out amongst the crowd, followed by laughter and applause. It seems that many visitors to the gallery share our opinion of BP as a vain hasty-witted devil-monk.
Nonetheless, we did our best to blend in with the rest of the evening’s activities; we saw a number of confused museum-goers looking in vain for us in their programmes. We handed out reams of leaflets, and managed to pull off three successful performances before the security guards finally decided that we weren’t meant to be there and shunted us out of the building.
Twas most gratifying to hear one gallery-goer say “oh yeah, these are the people who get up on stage in Stratford” – our reputation precedes us! Hopefully, tonight’s shenanigans will act as a reminder to the British Museum and the RSC that they can’t expect to take sponsorship money from an odiferous earth-vexing foot-licker such as BP without sparking serious criticism. As the Arctic ice reaches its lowest-ever recorded level, it’s more important than ever that the arts should not be available as a mask for the oil industry to hide its dirty deeds.