Rare Earth Mettle Internal Review Report

Published on Tue 1 Mar 2022

Statement from Anthony Burton, Chair, Royal Court Theatre, following the Board’s enquiry into the play Rare Earth Mettle

The Royal Court Theatre apologises unreservedly for the pain that has been caused around the production of its play Rare Earth Mettle. This incident fell short of the Royal Court’s own high ambitions in terms of inclusivity and anti-racism. It is committed to learning from it and clear actions have been put in place including specialist training on antisemitism.

The Royal Court must and will become a space in which Jewish artists and other professionals can work without fear of antisemitism, as it always should have been.

The Report

The board led enquiry into Rare Earth Mettle involved extensive interviews and research, all of which were supported without reservation by the Royal Court team.

The play was developed over an exceptionally long period, largely due to COVID, having been originally commissioned in 2015 but only produced in the spring of 2021. Fifteen drafts were written over the intervening years.

The choice of the name Hershel Fink was originally underpinned with explanatory narrative context. This context was ultimately and unintentionally excised during the prolonged editing process, leaving that choice of the name unexplained.

The combination of this, along with the name and aspects of the character’s personality could be seen as an antisemitic trope. This was especially the case when publicity material referenced the name and distilled the character’s personality without further context.

The point was raised twice during relatively late stages of the production process with the director, but was not appropriately resolved by him. The director deeply regrets this, apologizes and submitted a personal statement for inclusion in the report.

The play itself is not about Judaism and has no Jewish characters in it and this incident did not result from any deliberate act of antisemitism. It remains nonetheless a serious and damaging incident.

The systems in place were inadequate to identify and correct the issue at the appropriate time, which was when the explanatory narrative context was removed and thereafter. This will now be corrected.

The full report is available below.

A response from our Artistic Director

‘Thank you to the Board for their report which is released publicly today. We will now look to action the recommendations included within it alongside the ongoing work we have been doing internally and with members of the Jewish community, including our antisemitism training for staff and trustees which began last week.

We are very grateful to the many individuals, charities and organisations that have been open to conversations with us to ensure that these events lead to meaningful, long-lasting change and understanding. I am hopeful we can build trust with all the artists and communities we work with whose stories need to be told.’

Vicky Featherstone

Read the full report

If you would like to get in touch with us regarding the Board report, please email conversations@royalcourttheatre.com