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Mark Rylance is brave to quit the RSC. That doesn’t mean he is right

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Gentle Mark Rylance, that mercurial British actor, has done his bit to haul the ecological record of BP back into the limelight. He stepped away from his formal association with the Royal Shakespeare Company this weekend because of its continued receipt of sponsorship from the global oil business.

“I do not wish to be associated with BP any more than I would with an arms dealer, tobacco salesman or anyone who wilfully destroys lives of others alive and unborn. Nor, I believe, would Shakespeare,” he said.

Rylance is, like a growing band of outspoken artists, keen to use his fame to call big institutions to account. He is even bold enough to regularly question the assumed identity of Shakespeare himself. Only this month he wrote a piece which argued that fans of the plays should stay open to the idea that they “were actually made by a collaborative effort among artists”, men and women, working together.

So Rylance is a brave provocateur, and such people have an impact, whether they are ordinary citizens, like the climate protesters who recently demonstrated at an open-air screening of the Royal Ballet’s Romeo and Juliet, also sponsored by BP; or whether they are well-known artists, like Nan........

© The Guardian