April 25, 2016
(ANTIMEDIA) United Kingdom — Activists from the theatrical campaign group, BP or not BP, disrupted a posh performance by Russia’s Mariinsky Orchestra last week to express outrage at the musical group’s BP sponsorship, as well as the conductors’ links to Putin.
Three LGBT ‘Actorvists’ from the environmental group invaded the stage and balcony at the Cadogan Hall performance just minutes before the performance of Prokofiev’s Romeo and Juliet was set to begin. Attendees at the performance included VIPs from BP, the Department for Culture, Media and Sport, and the Russian Embassy.
The conductor of the BP-sponsored orchestra is a vocal supporter of Putin and has been targeted by gay rights protesters in the past, according to the activists. They also pointed out the prestigious event was held just days before the anniversary of BP’s Deepwater Horizon disaster in the Gulf of Mexico, which still affects residents and ecosystems today.
Performing their own four-minute version of the Shakespeare play, titled Ramira and Juliet, the protesters played the lovers as gay musicians who have a falling out over Ramira’s decision to accept a BP sponsorship. Theatregoers clapped and cheered as they recreated the famous balcony scene with an anti-BP, pro-LGBT spin in direct protest of Russia’s draconian anti-gay laws. According to the performers, boos erupted each time the oil giant’s name was mentioned.
BP is a major operator in Russia and holds a 19.75% stake in the massive state oil company, Rosneft, which ranks as the worst polluter in the region. Last year, Russia’s environmental watchdog opened a case against the state-owned corporation after oil began flowing from locals’ taps.
According to the protest campaigners, BP has been actively sponsoring and promoting Russian culture in the U.K. and lobbied against sanctions linked to the conflict in Ukraine, which have put plans to drill in the Arctic on hold.
“LGBT activists have a rich history of creative protest around civil rights, labour rights and climate change,” Sarah Ginsberg, one of the performers said.
“We took to the stage tonight to confront BP staff and the British and Russian governments with urgent questions about the ethics of continued fossil fuel extraction, the need to end oil sponsorship and the ongoing struggle for LGBT rights,” she added.
Another campaigner, Dudley Cooper, said the final curtain is near for BP — and it’s high time they left the stage.
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