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Rylance quits Royal Shakespeare Company over BP sponsorship

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London (AFP)

Oscar-winning British actor Mark Rylance said Friday he was quitting the Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC) over a sponsorship deal with British energy giant BP.

"I feel I must dissociate myself from the RSC, not because it is any less of a theatre company, but because of the company it keeps," the 59-year-old RSC associate artist wrote in The Guardian newspaper.

The RSC and BP have been in partnership since 2012. The energy firm sponsors £5 ($6.40, 5.60-euro) tickets for 16- to 25-year-olds, in a partnership set to last until 2022.

Rylance has been with the RSC for three decades.

"I do not write this in anger or righteousness," said Rylance, who won the 2015 best supporting actor Oscar for his performance in "Bridge of Spies".

"I am resigning to lend strength to the voices within the RSC who want to be progressive."

He claimed BP was "arguably destroying the planet".

"I feel I must resign as I do not wish to be associated with BP any more than I would with an arms dealer."

The RSC said it was saddened by Rylance's move, The Guardian said.

BP and other energy multinationals are under intensifying pressure from campaigners to halt carbon fuel development and focus on renewable forms of energy.

BP did not comment on the actor's decision, but said it was proud to have provided some 10,000 cheap tickets for young people each year through its sponsorship, said The Guardian.

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