Environmental Activists Interrupt Les Misérables Performance in Protest Against Fossil Fuels

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The famous West End rendition of Les Misérables faced an unexpected interruption during a performance of its renowned protest anthem, “Do You Hear The People Sing?” as members of the environmental activist group, Just Stop Oil, stormed the stage to stage their dissent. The incident led to the arrest of five individuals.

A video released by the protesting group showed their members taking over the stage, vehemently encouraging the audience to “join the rebellion”. The Metropolitan Police confirmed being summoned to address a protest brewing inside a theatre on Shaftesbury Avenue around 9PM.

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Just Stop Oil has developed a reputation for organizing protests at high-profile public gatherings, such as the prestigious Wimbledon tennis matches. Their demonstration at the Les Misérables show came to a head just as the iconic protest song blared through the speakers, with the protestors commandeering both ends of the stage.

Brandishing bright orange banners adorned with the group’s insignia, they irrepressibly halted the performance. Try as they might to persevere, the cast was ultimately escorted off the stage amidst the chaos.

With a reputation for stirring revolutionary sentiments, “Do You Hear The People Sing?” has been widely leveraged by global protests, notably during the 2019 Hong Kong demonstrations.

Just Stop Oil shared via their social media platform that four of its members had affixed themselves to the stage at the Sondheim Theatre, drawing parallels between the sustenance heist by the protagonist Jean Valjean in Les Misérables narrative and the world’s looming resource crisis. The group declared, “The fossil fuel show can’t go on.”

Audiences, however, were not receptive to the interruption, with calls of ‘get off’ resonating through the theater. The demonstration ended with the evacuation of the theatre at 21:10.

William Village, the CEO of Delfont Mackintosh Theatres, owners of the Sondheim, noted that safety remained paramount and the audience had to be asked to leave. Lamenting the incomplete performance, Village emphasized the importance of free expression, juxtaposed with the audience’s right to enjoy their event.

Hanan, a Check out the Just Stop Oil member, explained the group’s decision to target Les Misérables in a video. Drawing a parallel between the narrative of the June Rebellion featured in Les Mis and their stand against current governmental policies, the 22-year-old student held UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak accountable for approving several gas and oil licenses, in spite of the dire environmental consequences.

Rooted in its mission to combat petroleum projects, Just Stop Oil’s demand of the UK government is a blanket ban on all new licensing for oil, gas, and coal initiatives.