Jet strikes give Fiddler an unlikely twist

By Leon Symons, December 18, 2008

Pupils watching an end-of-term production of Fiddler on the Roof were suddenly confronted with a final scene of video images of Israeli air strikes.

And the man who decided to show the surprise video was the production director — who is Jewish.

One family complained to the principal of Hills Road Sixth Form College in Cambridge. Julian Cohen-Gold, whose 16-year-old son was in the cast, said: “They were very strong images. The show was about the 1905 pogroms of Jews in Russia. Then you’re faced with this video at the end and you wonder what message you take away. After those pictures, there’s only one answer.

“The point I raised with the college was whether or not the director had the right to impose his political view about a situation that has no parallel with the pogroms.

“What we saw at the end had nothing to do with Fiddler On The Roof. But the school principal told me she had seen the production and had no problem with it.”

Director Richard Fredman, head of drama at the college, said in his programme notes that it was more than a century since the events depicted in the musical and gave his audiences a hint about the ending: “We have sought to recognise the shifting social and political landscape of our modern world by bringing Fiddler On The Roof up to date while losing, we hope, none of its zest and enduring charm.”

He ended by stating: “I make no apology for dedicating this production to all people forced from their homes by intolerance, ignorance and fear.”

When contacted on Wednesday, Mr Fredman said he could not comment without the permission of the principal, Linda Sinclair. Ms Sinclair was in meetings and attending a rehearsal of the college carol concert.

Last updated: 3:41pm, December 18 2008