We condemn the destruction of Gaza cultural centre in Israeli airstrike

Fourteen leading playwrights and theatre directors, including Mike Bartlett, Caryl Churchill, Vicky Featherstone and Rufus Norris, describe the great rage and deep pain of their Palestinian friends and colleagues

As theatre practitioners who have worked closely with Palestinian artists, we write to condemn the bombing and total destruction of the Said Al-Mishal Cultural Centre in Gaza on 9 August by an Israeli airstrike. We support our dear friends and colleagues who describe their great rage and deep pain at the obliteration of this symbol of Palestinian culture and identity as they mourn the destruction of one of the few large venues for theatre and music performances in besieged Gaza.

Since its establishment in 2004, Al-Mishal served as a home for hundreds of plays, ceremonies, exhibits, musical performances and national ceremonies. It was the venue of choice for theatre companies in Gaza and a space for Gaza’s top musical acts. The centre also included recreational activities for children who were affected by three successive wars in Gaza, including the first dabkeh school for 250 children. It is a devastating loss for the already isolated community.

We are deeply shocked that this act of destruction has not been widely reported in the British press. We support all efforts to continue Al-Mishal’s mission and the campaign for the centre’s reconstruction. We urge the UK government and the international community to take prompt and effective steps to seek a de-escalation of the situation in Gaza, to insist on the effective protection of civilians as a prime legal obligation and to take firm action to ensure that violations of international law are not tolerated.

Mike Bartlett Playwright, Jonathan Chadwick Director and playwright, Caryl Churchill Playwright, EV Crowe Playwright, April De Angelis Playwright, Elyse Dodgson International director, Royal Court Theatre, Vicky Featherstone Artistic director, Royal Court Theatre, David Greig Playwright, artistic director, Royal Lyceum Theatre, Stephen Jeffreys Playwright, Phyllida Lloyd Director, Rufus Norris Director, National Theatre, Penelope Skinner Playwright, Richard Twyman, Artistic director, English Touring Theatre, Sacha Wares Director