Stage News

 2014



  Putin Bangs his Chest...

Russian authorities censor independent theatre


Link Here 3rd November 2014
zombie play putin Moscow's fringe Doc theatre faces censorship via eviction

Russia has been discouraging public celebrations of Halloween as part of a campaign against western influence. But that did not stop Teatr.Doc from staging a bitingly satirical Night of the Living Dead in what may be one of the last ever productions at the tiny basement theatre in central Moscow famous for innovative and uncompromising work.

In a move that has shaken the international theatrical community, the Moscow authorities have ordered Teatr.Doc to vacate the basement on grounds that it had supposedly violated property regulations.

Many people think the eviction order masks an attempt to censor one of Moscow's few independent theatres.

News of Teatr.Doc's eviction has sparked outrage. More than 6,200 people including Elyse Dodgson , international director at London's Royal Court Theatre, and Hollywood actor Bill Pullman have signed a petition on change.org urging Moscow's mayor to reverse the eviction decision.

Russia has reverted to Soviet style censorship and petty vindictiveness to silence Teatr.Doc, British playwright Tom Stoppard wrote in an open letter published last week. With sorrow one cannot help noting that the battle for freedom of expression which has been won in the past has to be fought again by this tiny theatre.

 

  Opera Censorship...

Jewish community protests against the New York staging of The Death of Klinghoffer


Link Here 23rd October 2014
Death Klinghoffer DVD Sanford Sylvan Composer John Adams' controversial The Death of Klinghoffer opened Monday night at New York's Metropolitan Opera to the sound of protest.

The opera was inspired by the 1985 hijacking of the Achille Lauro ship and the killing of disabled Jewish American Leon Klinghoffer by members of the Palestinian Liberation Front,

The protesters attempted to disrupt the production by calling out slogans during the performance, but loud applause from the audience drowned out the voices, as it did scattered boos at the end of the first act.

The Met released a statement Monday that said the opera:

Deals with a difficult subject: the horrific murder of an innocent man during an act of terrorism committed in 1985. However, the fact that 'Klinghoffer' grapples with the complexities of an unconscionable real-life act of violence does not mean it should not be performed.

Unofficial estimates put the crowd outside at 500 to 1,500 people. Scores of police officers were deployed and barricades ringed the pavilion, but unrest was largely limited to verbal volleys between patrons and a few breakaway protesters closer to the opera house.

Many of the speakers at the protest, organized by Jewish groups such as the Zionist Association. of America and the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, wore yellow stars, an appropriation of the mark Jews were forced to wear in Nazi Germany, and called for future boycotts of the Met. Dozens of volunteers also sat in wheelchairs referencing Leon Klinghoffe.

 

  Government Theatre Censor...

Turkish theatre director resigns over government demands for censorship of play


Link Here 19th October 2014
gunes bartarken The resignation of the Turkish State Theater's (DT) Director Mustafa Kurt, following an alleged censorship debate concerning a play about Goethe, has sparked controversy over whether the Ministry of Culture and Tourism is forcing directors who are against a controversial bill on the proposed Turkey Arts Council (TUSAK) to quit their jobs.

Kurt resigned  just before the State Theater's premiere of the play Gunes Batarken Bile Buyuk (The Sun is Big Even at Sunset) .

A government committee had requested DT officials to remove certain lines featuring sexual or vulgar language. The ministry then ordered Kurt to postpone the premiere while it determined whether these parts had been removed. The DT's rejection of the administration's order allegedly led to Kurt's resignation.

If the proposed bill on TUSAK becomes law, the final word on all art-related projects in Turkey will lie with this council.

 

  Met Sweat...

Protests against a New York staging of the opera The Death of Klinghoffer


Link Here 23rd September 2014
Death Klinghoffer DVD Sanford Sylvan There has been a protest in New York against an upcoming show at the Metropolitan Opera House.

A few dozens of people (from what the amNY newspaper ludicrously describes as different backgrounds, ignoring the politically incorrect elephant in the room), gathered outside Lincoln Center calling on the Met Opera's general manager, Peter Gelb, to cancel its upcoming performances of The Death of Klinghoffer .

The opera depicts the 1985 hijacking of an Italian cruise ship by Palestinian terrorists and murder of passenger Leon Klinghoffer, a Jewish New Yorker, and it has been accused of being anti-Semitic tone.

Rabbi Joseph Potasnik, the executive vice president of the New York Board of Rabbis said: What's next? 'ISIS: A Love Story'?

The Met, which is planning to present the opera in October and November, reiterated that although the show deals with difficult subject matter it stood by Adams's work. I t said in a statement:

As a cultural institution, we unwaveringly support the freedom of artists to create responsible work that addresses difficult contemporary topics. We firmly believe that artistic explorations of politically charged subjects should be presented to the public without fear of censorship.

 

  The art of grabbing power...

Singapore's media censors take on a new remit for arts entertainment but won't force event organisers to self censor.


Link Here 22nd August 2014
mda singapore logo Singapore's media censor, the Media Development Authority of Singapore (MDA), has said it will not be proceeding with a new censorship scheme for arts entertainment organisers, following a public consultation exercise in May and numerous industry consultations.

The Arts Term Licensing Scheme was one of the changes proposed by MDA to the Public Entertainments and Meetings Act to force arts entertainment event organisers to classify their own performances.

Under the scheme, licensees would have to either adopt a General rating or else a Restricted 18 rating. But during the public consultation, 45 arts groups backed a position by artists' network Arts Engage, which objected to the scheme. Among their concerns was that such a scheme would encourage self-censorship as assessors fear hefty fines and penalties if a work was wrongly classified.

The MDA said it remains mindful that arts groups were the intended key beneficiaries of the scheme and it would not be meaningful to roll out the scheme if the majority of the arts groups were opposed to it.

But while MDA will not proceed with the Term Licensing Scheme, it will proceed with other proposed amendments to the Public Entertainments and Meetings Act. They include streamlining the enforcement process by vesting MDA with investigation powers for arts and entertainment breaches. Currently, MDA has to report such violations to the police for investigation.

 

 Update: Ofcom Like Chinese...

Gold Channel to be investigated by the TV censor for not censoring Monty Python enough


Link Here 20th August 2014  full story: Monty Python Live (Mostly)...Show causes censorship problems when shown on TV
Monty Python Live Mostly Down Monty Python Live is a 2014 UK comedy by Eric Idle.
Starring Graham Chapman, John Cleese and Carol Cleveland. YouTube icon IMDb

The BBFC rating is not yet published for video but it was passed 15 uncut for very strong language, strong sex references for cinema showing:

  • 2014 Eagle Rock RB Blu-ray at UK Amazon released on 10th November 2014
  • 2014 Eagle Rock R2 DVD at UK Amazon released on 10th November 2014

A TV channel is to be investigated by Ofcom for broadcasting swearing in a Monty Python show before the watershed. Gold Channel aired one of the the O2 Arena shows live, but apparently failed to bleep out all the swearing.

Gold Channel made a real pigs' ear of ugly and invasive (but necessary by TV censorship rules) cuts to strong language and sex references, but obviously missed a bit.

Ofcom have also received complaints about excessive censorship from viewers who would have preferred to see it without the cuts. But of course the Ofcom TV complaints system is totally one-sided and these complaints will be instantly dismissed. There are simply no Ofcom rules against cultural vandalism.

An Ofcom spokesman said:

After receiving complaints about the broadcast of the most offensive language before the watershed, Ofcom is investigating a live performance of Monty Python on Gold. All our licensees are required to comply with our broadcasting rules, which make clear that the most offensive language cannot be shown on television before the watershed.

 

  Theatre Censorship in Goa...

Stage drama causes controversy in India


Link Here 10th August 2014
India flag Tension prevails in Goa over the staging of a controversial theatre drama (Tiatr): Atankwadi Goeant Naka (Goa doesn't need terrorists).

Following a demand made by Sriram Sena for the arrest of the writer-director Tousif Shaikh for trying to portray Pramod Mutalik in bad light, the director Saturday morning decided not to hold the drama. Today was to be the premier show of the Tiatr .

The play has targeted Pramod Mutalik. What right does anyone have to portray Mutalik as a terrorist? , Gangadhar Kulkarni, general secretary of Sriram Sena questioned.

Besides those who had booked tickets for the show, a large number of people have gathered outside the venue amidst strong police presence. The Tiatr goers have demanded with the director that they would protest if he doesn't go ahead with the show.

The controversy over this Tiatr comes in the wake of a direction given by Ravindra Bhavan to give an undertaking that they would not criticize the government, MLAs or ministers last week. After the matter was raised in the assembly, the manager denied it and later withdrew the instructions.

 

  A Little Too Fringe...

An Edinburgh Fringe show titled Racist Joke Show has been pulled (or re-titled)


Link Here 5th August 2014
racist joke show The controversially titled Racist Joke Show has been pulled from the Edinburgh Fringe. It is an examination of the subject of racism rather than a show featuring offensive jokes.

Stand-up Jay Islaam had already taken a bit of flak over a poster for the show including a golliwog. A festival sponsor, Arts & Business Scotland, a publicly-funded quango wanted to be removed from the poster, which was agreed.

But now the show has been removed from the Festival programme completely, although it is unclear who made the decision.

Islaam initially put out a statement saying that Freestival organisers told them he could not go ahead because of sponsors concerns about being associated with a provocatively named comedy hour. But this connection was later retracted with Islaam saying that he would say nothing further on the subject.

La Favorita Freestival, who admitted the original poster was insensitive and unnecessary , said the show had to be dropped from its planned venue, a meeting room at Phones 4U's offices, because: Phones4U's legal department got involved.

The phone company denied censoring the show, but something was up, as all festival events at its venue have now been moved elsewhere.

The show has now been replaced by the Family Friendly Politically Correct Comedy Show, which sounds suspiciously like it could be the same show re-titled.

 

  On the Political Stage...

Israeli funded stage show on the Edinburgh Fringe cancelled after protests


Link Here 2nd August 2014
the city incubator theatre A show by an Israeli theatre group has been cancelled by the venue after protesters disrupted other nearby events.

The show was due to take place as part of the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, an annual cultural festival in the Scottish capital that celebrates theatre, music and comedy. However, the Underbelly theatre was forced to cancel all performances of The City by the Incubator Theatre group after anti-Israel demonstrators gathered outside, disrupting nearby events.

Described as Humphrey Bogart meets Jay-Z in a gritty and darkly comic whodunit hip-hop opera , The City did not have political content yet various Scottish cultural figures called for a boycott as the Incubator Theatre group receives part of its funding from the Israeli Ministry of Culture.

 

  Shakespeare's Saw VIII...

100 theatre goes reported to have fainted during performances of Shakespeare's Titus Andronicus at the Globe Theatre


Link Here 27th July 2014
titus andronicus globe Titus Andronicus is well known as William Shakespeare's most violent play, but this clue wasn't enough for theatregoers at London's Globe Theatre, 100 of whom fainted or walked out, overcome by the gore during the latest run of Titus Andronicus.

Even The Independent's theatre reviewer, Holly Williams, confessed to fainting:

I'm not alone. Audiences are dropping like flies at this revival of Lucy Bailey's infamously gory 2006 staging.

So I can't vouch for Act III, scene ii - but if it's anything like the rest of this vivaciously staged, blackly comic and dizzyingly unrestrained production, it was probably exceptional.

The London Telegraph critic Charles Spencer left the theatre both harrowed to the marrow and disconcertingly elated .

Lucy Bailey, the show's director, told The Independent that she enjoyed the physical effect the work had on audiences. Bailey said:

I used to get disappointed if only three people passed out,

 

  The Soul of a Pillow...

Russian government bans plays for going against traditional gay hating moral values


Link Here 13th June 2014  full story: Gay in Russia...Russia bans gay parades and legislates against gay rights
Russia flag A children's puppet show has been banned from Russia's prime book festival over claims it promotes homosexuality, a news report said.

Colta.ru culture news website published an open letter from the Culture Ministry, demanding the organizers of the festival to pull The Soul of a Pillow by Olzhas Zhanaidarov from their program.

The play tells the story of a friendship between a pillow, and a boy in a kindergarten.

The ministry also condemned the adult play Herbivores by Maxim Kurochkin, citing its use of expletives. First Deputy Minister Vladimir Aristarkhov spouted: The content of both plays goes against the traditional moral values of Russian culture.

The ministry has no formal authority to ban the works, but said it would pull its name from the festival if the plays remain listed.

Both plays will be rebooked to run at an independent venue, said Colta.ru, organizer of the showings.

 

 Offsite Article: India's Supreme Court breaks police stranglehold on theatre...


Link Here 30th May 2014
India flag Dramatic performances cannot be policed and subjected to pre-censorship

See article from indexoncensorship.org

 

  Brutality of the Highest Order...

Having fun with Shakespeare as audiences faint during performances of the 'grotesquely violent' Titus Andronicus


Link Here 1st May 2014
globe titus andronicus With 14 deaths, brutal rape scenes, mutilation and cannibalism, Shakespeare's Titus Andronicus has never been one for the fainthearted. But the gruesome scenes at the Globe Theatre's latest revival have proved too much for some. Members of the audience have been fainting during the play's most violent scenes, with others reporting feeling sick and warning of sleepless nights.

The play, a revival of Lucy Bailey's 2006 production, is publicised with a warning that it is grotesquely violent and daringly experimental , with a terrible cycle of mutilation, rape and murder .

A spokesman for the Globe confirmed five members of the audience fainted in a particularly gory five-minute scene, adding front of house staff are very well trained to look after people . It is understood all five fell while watching Lavinia emerge from being brutally rape, with her tongue cut out and holding bloodied stumps for arms.

 

 Offsite Article: The Complete Word of God (Abridged and Censored)...


Link Here 1st May 2014
The Complete Word God Abridged Reflecting on Northern Ireland's self-appointed theatre censors

See article from indexoncensorship.org

 

 Update: Gagging for Easy Offence...

Posters for the play, Charles III, are censored on London Underground


Link Here 20th April 2014  full story: Transport for London Censors...Advert censorship
charles iii A poster advertising a satirical play about the Monarchy and, showing Prince Charles gagged, has been censored by London Underground because it fears it could cause offence.

The advert for the critically acclaimed production of King Charles III features a punk-style portrait of the Prince with his mouth covered by white duct tape.

But despite the fact that the poster has been displayed across London since the play opened nearly three weeks ago, a nervous Transport for London has decided to pixelate Charles's face.

There appeared to be confusion over exactly why the poster had been censored. TfL laid the blame on the company that deals with adverts on the Tube:

We work with a company called Exterion Media, which handles our adverts on the Tube network and offers advice. They may say this or that could cause offence. Exterion may have said the poster doesn't fit with part of their policy. The decision was made without reference to us and does look to have been a little over-enthusiastic. We will speak to them about it.

 

 Updated: Reduced to Censorship...

Easily offended Ulster council censors the Reduced Shakespeare Company from staging The Bible: The Complete Word of God (Abridged)


Link Here 1st February 2014
Complete Word God Bible Abridged A comedy show about the Bible, which producers say has been endorsed by hundreds of clergy, has been axed from the Theatre at the Mill in Newtownabbey amid claims it was anti-Christian .

The Reduced Shakespeare Company was due to kick off its latest UK tour by presenting The Bible: The Complete Word of God (abridged) at the council-run venue. But earlier this month, calls for the show to be cancelled were made by DUP councillors.

The party's Robert Hill told UTV that members of the public had approached representatives asking them to get it stopped on the grounds that it was offensive.

UUP Mayor Fraser Agnew also told UTV:

There were a lot of people concerned about the nature of this play, that it was anti-Christian - and we have established indeed it was anti-Christian, he said.

I believe there's got to be some form of censorship, otherwise you'll have all sorts of things happening.

The show's producer Davey Naylor told UTV that the production had toured extensively around the world over the past 20 years. The company has even performed the show at the Jerusalem Festival in Israel without objection, he said, calling for people to come and see it before branding it unholy. This is the very first time in the almost-20year life of the show that a performance has been cancelled because of the complaints of a few.

Playwright Austin Tichenor, co-author of the script and one of the managing partners of the Reduced Shakespeare Company, said:

We find it quite staggering that this type of censorship still appears to flourish in the UK and would like to apologise to all the audience members who bought tickets and are therefore unable to see the show. We'd also like to thank everyone for the hundreds of messages of support we have received. It's a shame these voices are drowned out by the few dissenting, uninformed ones.

Update: Comedian Jake O'Kane wades in

25th January 2013. See  article from  bbc.co.uk . Thanks to Nick

Jake OKane Tear Comedy Tour One of NI's leading comedians has criticised the council zealots who have banned a play in County Antrim. Jake O'Kane said unionist councillors who took the decision weren't elected to be moral guardians . O'Kane said:

I haven't seen the play, and unfortunately I'll never be able to see the play because councillors have decided that we will not be allowed to see the play.

It's like getting in a time machine and they went back to before the Reformation and the Enlightenment.

There was £ 7m spent on this theatre, it opened in 2010, and they may as well close the doors. If they are going to be the moral guardians of what we see and don't see, that theatre is dead in the water.

We already have laws, we have hate speech laws, that dictate what the arts can and cannot do. If it is hateful, if it is against minorities, the laws are already there to censor that.

We don't need a bunch of unionist councillors in Newtownabbey deciding what we can or cannot go to see.

They call themselves moral guardians - they weren't elected to be moral guardians. We elected them to empty our bins, make sure the leisure centres were open - that's the powers they have.

They didn't put on their manifesto that they were going to decide what we can or cannot see.

Patrick Corrigan of Amnesty International said:

It is well established in international human rights law that the right to freedom of expression, though not absolute, is a fundamental right which may only be restricted in certain limited circumstances to do with the advocacy of hatred.

It is quite obvious that those circumstances are not met in the context of this work of comedy and thus that the cancelling of the play is utterly unjustified on human rights grounds.

Such interference with freedom of speech and artistic expression should be of concern to freedom lovers everywhere.

Update: Saddened by a culture of censorship

27th January 2013.See  article from  u.tv

caral ni chuilin Culture and Arts Minister Caral Ni Chuilin has described the cancellation of a controversial play about the Bible as disappointing:

I was disappointed to hear of the decision to cancel the production of The Bible: The complete Word of God (abridged). I know that the play has travelled extensively and been performed on the international stage for the past 20 years.

I am saddened that audiences here will not be offered the opportunity to see the performance and judge for themselves the virtues of the show.

I fully support the views of the Arts Council that the artist's right to freedom of expression should always be defended and that the arts have a role in promoting discussion and allowing space for disagreement and debate.

Update: Council shamed into revoking the ban

28th January 2013. See  article from  theguardian.com . Thanks to Nick

newtownabbey council logo A ban on a play which was claimed to be blasphemous has been lifted by a council in Northern Ireland .

Members of the artistic board at Newtownabbey, Co Antrim reversed an earlier vote, allowing the Reduced Shakespeare Company to now stage The Bible: The Complete Word of God at Theatre at the Mill, which is run by Newtownabbey borough council.

Councillors who backed the play claimed the ban made them look like a laughing stock.

Update: The inevitable protest

1st February 2013. See  article from  belfasttelegraph.co.uk

free presbyterian church logo 70 fundamentalist Christian protesters made their voices heard at the second sold-out night of the controversial play The Bible: The Complete Word Of God (Abridged) .

Members of the Free Presbyterian Church sang hymns and passed out leaflets at the entrance of the Theatre At The Mill in Newtownabbey as theatre-goers made their way to the play.

The protesters, led by Rev Brian McClung of the Newtownabbey Free Presbyterian Church, handed over a letter of protest to Newtownabbey Borough Council. McClung described it as perverse human nature that the play had sold so many tickets since opposition was raised. He said:

Primarily we are here tonight to stand up for the honour of God's word. We believe this play mocks the word of God.

We are offended because people are mocking the scriptures and we are here to show our offense. Supposedly the council and society is to have regard for minorities, but they don't seem to have much regard for evangelical Christians when it comes to things like this.

 

 Offsite Article: Holocaust denial is despicable...but it's wrong to ban it...


Link Here 21st January 2014
Brendan O'Neill To ban it would be a grave moral error, since it would send the message that Truth is incapable of winning a war of words and wits against Falsehood. By Brendan O'Neill

See article from blogs.telegraph.co.uk