An activist group claims to have taken over the stage at a concert by the Mariinsky Orchestra and Valery Gergiev at Cadogan Hall on Monday. Their targets included Putin’s anti-LGBT policies and his Government’s alleged links to the oil company BP. There has been no independent report of the demonstration, nor any published review of the concert.
The activists issued the following release and picture:
photo: Hugh Warwick
• Cadogan Hall concert targeted due to oil sponsor and Russian conductor’s links with Putin
• Unsanctioned ‘balcony scene’ entertains audience
• Concert-goers include high-level officials from BP, and British and Russian governments
Three performers from theatrical campaign group BP or not BP? took to the stage – and a balcony – at Cadogan Hall this evening to challenge BP’s sponsorship, just before Russia’s Mariinsky Orchestra was due to begin a performance of Prokofiev’s Romeo and Juliet. Invitees included VIPs from BP, the Department for Culture, Media and Sport, and the Russian Embassy, who gathered for a BP-hosted reception beforehand.
The actorvists, all of whom are LGBT, performed their own four-minute version of the Shakespeare play, titled ‘Ramira and Juliet’, in which the lovers are gay musicians who fall out over Ramira accepting sponsorship from BP. Adapting many famous passages from the play, they ultimately sort out their differences, drop the oily sponsor, and marry – which would be illegal in Russia under its draconian anti-gay laws.  The full script can be found below.
Concert-goers laughed and applauded as the performers recreated the famous balcony scene with an anti-BP, pro-gay rights twist, culminating in the actorvists ripping the BP logo from their programmes. A lone heckler was shushed by the audience, and boos could be heard whenever BP’s name was mentioned. Security allowed the performance to conclude and the disobedient thespians left the building of their own accord.
BP is a major operator in Russia, holding a 19.75% stake in massive state oil company Rosneft, making it the largest shareholder after the Russian government. Rosneft is probably Russia’s worst polluter,  responsible for multiple spills and leaks, including once causing oil to flow out of domestic taps.  BP has been actively sponsoring and promoting Russian culture and achievements in the UK,  and has previously lobbied against sanctions linked to the conflict in Ukraine, which have put plans to drill in the Arctic with Rosneft on ice. 
BP recently sponsored the Science Museum’s Cosmonauts exhibition, which celebrated Russian space exploration and saw the museum’s director receive the Pushkin medal from Vladimir Putin.  The BP-sponsored Mariinsky Orchestra’s world-famous conductor, Valery Gergiev, is a vocal supporter of Putin and has been targeted by gay rights protests in the past.  The performance also comes two days before the anniversary of BP’s Deepwater Horizon disaster in the Gulf of Mexico which has cost the company more than $50 billion and the impacts of which are still affecting residents and ecosystems today.