Clementine Ford's Event at Malthouse Theatre Transferred Due to Safety Concerns

Published March 1, 2024

An event hosted by writer and activist Clementine Ford at Melbourne’s Malthouse Theatre has been relocated due to fears over patron safety. The program, titled Love Sermon, which offers an affirming perspective on love and its role in our lives, was initially set for the theatre’s open-air stage on a Saturday evening, coinciding with the premiere of the acclaimed production, Yentl.

Background on Yentl and its Significance

Yentl is a performance by the Kadimah Yiddish Theatre based on Isaac Bashevis Singer’s short story, which gained widespread attention through a 1983 film adaptation featuring Barbra Streisand. After successful shows in last year's Yiddish Festival, the Malthouse Theatre planned to reintroduce it to a broader spectatorship.

Concerns Arising from Audience Demographics

Ford has been in the media spotlight due to her stance on Palestine and her part in publicizing private conversations from a WhatsApp group composed of Jewish Australians. The expected turnout for her event was anticipated to lean pro-Palestine, potentially clashing with the Jewish and likely pro-Israel audience attending Yentl.

Malthouse Theatre’s Decision to Move the Event

Malthouse Theatre, following advice from risk consultants and law enforcement, expressed increasing concern about ensuring the complete safety of their visitors in the vicinity of their temporary outdoor stage. They concluded to shift Ford's event to the Trades Hall after extensive dialogue with involved participants.

Response from Law Enforcement and Theatre Officials

Law enforcement officials clarified that they offer security counsel for all public happenings, a role they fulfilled here without instructing organizers to cancel the event. They confirmed their willingness to deploy officers had the event proceeded as originally planned. However, the ultimate call to move the event rested with the organisers themselves. The Malthouse Theatre refrained from giving detailed explanations about the specific nature of the safety concerns and chose not to comment further.

Broader Reactions and Statements

Debbie Dadon of the Besen Family Foundation recently resigned from the Malthouse board due to these issues, choosing not to comment further during this trying time for herself and family. Meanwhile, Ford has faced criticism from certain pro-Israel and Jewish factions for her role in spreading the contents of the WhatsApp group but contests that the information came from within the group itself. Her forthcoming appearance is as one of the curators at the Sydney Opera House's All About Women event, where she will participate in a show based on her latest book.

Despite the relocation, Ford's event is still listed on the Malthouse Theatre's website but now includes an advisory remark about the change of venue.

safety, relocation, theatre