Comedian Terry Gilliam has broken his silence after his show was cancelled by The Old Vic theatre and said he never thought ‘freedom of recommendation’ would be under threat.
The Monty Python star, 81, was set to co-direct Stephen Sondheim’s musical Into The Woods next year when the iconic theatre in London announced the production had been called off last month.
In a post on social media the actor has now said his ‘unspeakable crime’ was recommending to his Facebook followers to watch a show by a ‘brilliant and provocative American comedian’.
He went on to say it was ‘very sad’ that a ‘great cultural institution like The Old Vic allowed itself to be intimidated into cancelling our production’.
Comedian Terry Gilliam said he never thought ‘freedom of recommendation’ would be under threat after his show was cancelled by The Old Vic theatre last month
The former Monty Python star urged his 495,000 Facebook followers to watch US comedian Dave Chappelle’s controversial new Netflix show, The Closer
He wrote: ‘It is very sad that a great cultural institution like The Old Vic allowed itself to be intimidated into cancelling our production of Into The Woods by a small group of closed-minded, humour-averse ideologues on their staff, who absurdly, call themselves ”The Old Vic 12”…as if they are the victims of some cruel injustice desperately fighting for their freedom!
‘My unspeakable crime was recommending my Facebook followers to watch a Netflix special by a brilliant and provocative American comedian, and then share with me their opinions.
‘They did and civilisation did not collapse! However, The Old Vic’s artistic credibility certainly has.
‘Freedom of Speech is often attacked, but I never imagined that Freedom of Recommendation would be under threat as well.’
In October, Gilliam publicly backed Chappelle and told his followers he would ‘love to hear their opinions’ on his new Netflix special.
He wrote: ‘I’m encouraging all of you to watch Dave Chappelle’s new show, The Closer, on Netflix. To me, he’s the greatest standup comedian alive today: incredibly intelligent, socially aware, dangerously provocative, and gut-wrenchingly funny.
‘There’s a storm brewing over Netflix’s support for the show. I’d love to hear your opinions.’
Chappelle’s Netflix special has sparked a backlash for his comments about the LGBT+ community.
The show, which saw some Netflix employees walk out in protest, also sees the comedian tell the audience that ‘gender is a fact’.
The comedian took to social media to say his ‘unspeakable crime’ was recommending to his Facebook followers to watch a show by a ‘brilliant and provocative American comedian’
In October Gilliam took to Facebook and said he would ‘love to hear the opinions’ of those who had watched Dave Chappelle’s new show
The former Monty Python star was set to co-direct Stephen Sondheim’s musical Into The Woods next year when then The Old Vic theatre in London announced the production had been called off
Concerns were said to have been raised in May over Gilliam’s work with the Old Vic, but bosses had proceeded with the production.
Members of the Old Vic 12 – the organisation’s artistic development scheme – were among those voicing concerns, The Stage reported.
Old Vic employees were also said to be angry and one even resigned because of Gilliam’s stance on Harvey Weinstein, the #MeToo movement and transgender rights.
It was reported that senior management later met Gilliam and his co-director Leah Hausman ‘as a matter of course to discuss our culture and values’.
A spokesman told The Stage: ‘The Old Vic and co-producers Scenario Two mutually agreed that the production of Into the Woods will not take place at The Old Vic. We won’t be commenting further.’
Into the Woods hit Broadway in 1987 before making its West End debut at the Phoenix Theatre in 1990.
It was adapted for the big scream by Disney in 2015 with Meryl Streep, James Corden and Johnny Depp among the cast.
Last month the show’s production company Scenario Two confirmed the Theatre Royal Bath will now put on Gilliam’s highly-anticipated version from August next year.
Scenario Two boss John Berry said the theatre bosses in Bath had shown an interest in hosting the musical within hours of The Old Vic withdrawing its support in November.
He said Mr Sondheim, who died on November 26, was ‘steadfast’ in his support for Gilliam, adding the celebrated composer would ‘wholeheartedly approve the idea of staging in Bath’.
Mr Berry told The Times: ‘I think it is perfect for us. We get a chance to really test the production and then the plan is to bring it into town [London].
‘This is going to be really exciting. In some ways it is the perfect environment for Terry’s great vision.’