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Just Stop Oil protesters storm stage at Les Misérables in West End

Just Stop Oil protestors halted a performance of Les Misérables in the West End tonight (4 October).

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A group of activists disrupted the evening show at London’s Sondheim Theatre, getting onto the stage and ‘locking’ themselves to the set.

A video posted by Just Stop Oil on social media shows the protestors interrupting the performance during Do You Hear the People Sing? towards the end of the first act.

At first, the cast appears to continue to sing as the protestors wave flags before stage managers usher the company into the wings and the safety curtain comes down. The stunt was met by boos and chants of ‘Get Off’ from the audience.

In a statement, Just Stop Oil said their supporters locked themselves to the set using flexible bicycle locks, which forced an end to the performance and an evacuation of the theatre.

Just Stop Oil member Hannah Taylor said: “The show starts with Jean Valjean stealing a loaf of bread to feed his sister’s starving child. How long before we are all forced to steal loaves of bread? How long before there are riots on the streets? The show cannot go on. We are facing catastrophe. New oil and gas means crop failure, starvation and death. It is an act of war on the global south and an utter betrayal of young people.

“Rishi Sunak has just approved Rosebank, a new oil project in the north sea which will produce as much carbon as the annual emissions of the 28 lowest-income countries combined. It will lead to hundreds of thousands of deaths due to starvation as crops fail in the increasingly extreme weather conditions.

“Am I not, like Jean Valjean, justified in breaking the law to oppose this criminal government and its murderous policies? Ask yourself, will you, like the citizens of Paris in the play, stand by and watch, or will you stand up against our governments’ criminal plans and call for an end to new oil and gas?”

William Village, chief executive of Delfont Mackintosh Theatres, said: “During the first half of our performance of Les Misérables, individuals from Just Stop Oil invaded the stage, abruptly stopping the show.

“Following our safety protocols, the audience were asked to leave the auditorium and the Met Police attended. Regrettably, there was insufficient time to enable us to complete the rest of the performance. Whilst we recognise the importance of free expression, we must also respect our audience’s right to enjoy the event for which they have paid.”

They added that audience members would be refunded.

In a statement to Sky News, The Metropolitan Police said: “At approximately 21:00hrs on Wednesday 4 October police were called to reports of a small number of protesters at a theatre in Shaftesbury Avenue.

“Officers are on scene and dealing.”

About the author: Jessica White

Recent University graduate Jessica is the newest writer for Stageberry. She's over the moon to be sharing her theatre knowledge and passion for musicals with the online world.