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UK’s Southampton theatre cancels shows after actors in LGBT play attacked

 Performances of the play Rotterdam could not go ahead at Nuffield Southampton Theatres on Saturday. Photograph: Stefan Venter

By Grace Dzuwa

A theatre in Southampton cancelled performances of a play about an LGBT couple after two members of the cast were attacked in the street.

The producers of the play Rotterdam, on at the Nuffield Southampton Theatres, announced Saturday’s performances would not go ahead because of “a hate crime directed at two of our actors”.

They tweeted: “We are devastated that this kind of behaviour is still so prevalent, a fact which reinforces the importance of this play’s message. We are doing all we can to support the team and thank our audiences and colleagues for their support.”

According to The UK Guardian, two actors in the company were assaulted on their way to work. “The assailants verbally abused them and threw stones from their car window, one of which struck an actor in the face.

“They have sustained only minor injuries but are hugely shaken from this cowardly, homophobic hate crime. The production have requested anyone with relevant information should contact the local police.”

Lucy Jane Parkinson (left) and Rebecca Banatvala were starring in Rotterdam                                                                                                                 Lucy Jane Parkinson said she had been kissing her girlfriend, Rebecca Banatvala, who is also in the play, when she was attacked. “The car was coming past and they shouted something and something hit me between my eye and my temple,” she said. “It knocked me to the floor and I could hear them laughing as the car was driving off.”

In a statement, the actors said: “The attack happened because we were embracing. There’s no mistake that this was a homophobic hate crime. It was a cowardly attack as it was a moving car. Our community shouldn’t have to tolerate this.

“This is why we have Pride. We should take all steps we can in the education system to help to eradicate this aggressive ignorance from strangers to other strangers.”

Hampshire constabulary said: “We have received a report from a third party relating to an incident which happened on Hill Lane, Southampton, on the afternoon of Saturday 8 June.

“It has been reported that homophobic abuse was shouted at two women, and stones thrown at them, by the occupants of a passing car.”

Rotterdam, by Jon Brittain, premiered at Theatre 503 in south London in 2015 and transferred to Trafalgar Studios the following year. It is about a couple living in Rotterdam: the character Alice has found the courage to come out to her parents as gay, and her partner, Fiona, tells her she has always identified as a man and wants to be called Adrian.

The play won an Olivier award for outstanding achievement in an affiliate theatre and is touring the UK.

Parkinson said: “This is what we do this job for. It’s not the first time that anybody in the queer community has experienced something like this and unfortunately it won’t be the last. We just have to keep getting back up, brushing ourselves off and moving forward. We need to keep putting on shows like Rotterdam and having queer representation in TV.”

The incident happened a week after a gay couple were subjected to a homophobic attack on a bus in north London. Melania Geymonat and her girlfriend, Chris, were assaulted after refusing to kiss each other on demand for a group of young men.

The Metropolitan police are treating the attack as a hate crime.

Four males between the ages of 15 and 18 have been arrested on suspicion of robbery and aggravated grievous bodily harm.

A 16-year-old boy has also been arrested on suspicion of robbery and aggravated burglary.

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