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Update: Saluting Censorship...

France is considering banning the performances of Dieudonne M'bala M'bala

Link Here29th December 2013
Full story: Dieudonne Mbala Mbala...Comedian winds up with near anti-semitic humour
France is considering banning performances by a comedian for insulting the memory of Holocaust victims and whose shows could threaten public order, the interior minister, Manuel Valls, has said.

The interior ministry is exploring legal ways to ban Dieudonne' M'bala M'bala, who has been fined repeatedly for hate speech.

Jewish groups have complained to the president, Francois Hollande, about Dieudonne's trademark straight-arm gesture, which they call a Nazi salute in reverse and a claimed link to a growing frequency of  anti-jewish remarks and acts in France.

Update: Salutations

2nd January 2013. See  article from

The San Antonio Spurs point guard Tony Parker has apologised after being photographed giving a salute considered to be antisemitic. In his apology, he said the photograph had been taken three years ago, and added that he had not known at the time that the gesture could be in any way offensive or harmful .

The French NBA star was pictured giving the quenelle , which has been described as a reverse Nazi salute , with its originator, the French comedian Dieudonne M'bala M'bala. Dieudonne, a controversial figure whose film The Anti-Semite was banned from the 2012 Cannes festival, maintains that it is intended as an anti-establishment gesture.

Update: Calling for a ban

6th January 2013. From

The mayor of Paris has joined France's interior minister in calling for comedian Dieudonne, whose vitriolic brand of humour has outraged jews, to be banned from the stage.

Speaking on Europe 1 radio, Paris mayor Bertrand Delanoe, a socialist, on Sunday likened Dieudonne to a criminal who defends crimes against humanity . We must ban the performances (of Dieudonne), he said, echoing recent comments made by Interior Minister Manuel Valls.

Outraged by Dieudonne's latest jibe against Jewish radio presenter Patrick Cohen, Valls said he was examining options to ban performances by a man he brands as a little trader of hate .

Officials in several cities where Dieudonne is set to perform during a nationwide tour this month have also said they are trying to ban his show.



Update: 'Seriousness is the only refuge of the shallow'...

Russian church whinges at a version of Oscar Wilde's An Ideal Husband

Link Here26th December 2013
Full story: Blasphemy in Russia...Offending religious beliefs or desecration of holy objects or symbols
Russian police have opened a probe into a play based on Oscar Wilde's An Ideal Husband staged by Moscow's MKhT theater, which the Russian Orthodox church claimed to be "blasphemous."

The probe into Idealny Muzh. Komediya (An Ideal Husband. A Comedy) , written and directed by Konstantin Bogomolov , was opened in response to complaints by four members of the public.

The complaints may be linked to comments by the Russian Orthodox church which earlier criticized the performance. Perennial whinger, and Russian Orthodox Church spokesman, Vsevolod Chaplin was quoted as saying:

From my point of view, [the performance] contained the profanation of the crucifix symbol, as an almost totally naked woman imitated it.

In late November, a performance of the play was disrupted by Orthodox activists, who went onstage, shouting blasphemy accusations.



Not Funny...

Sri Lanka's stage censor bans satirical play

Link Here6th December 2013
The censor board has banned the latest edition of the popular political satire Pusswedilla from being staged in Sri Lanka.

The Director of Pusswedilla, Feroz Kamardeen, told the Colombo Gazette that the censor board had refused permission for the stage play on the premise that it supposedly criticizes the Commonwealth summit.

Kamardeen said that Pusswedilla Part 4.1 The Comon Welthings Summit was start on November 30. However two days earlier the censor board had informed Kamardeen that the play had been banned. he said:

Pusswedilla will be back. We will not back down. In keeping with the finest traditions of democracy we will continue to make fun of our political masters on both sides of the political divide. We will continue to exercise our freedoms of speech and expression that is guaranteed to us in our constitution.



The Most Fabulous Story Ever Told...

Oklahoma pastors take offence at a play with a gay twist on the Bible

Link Here28th November 2013
Pastors from across the Oklahoma City metropolitan area say they are outraged and offended over a play featuring biblical satire and simulated gay sex.

Members of the clergy are planning a protest to be held at the city-owned Civic Center Music Hall on the opening night of OKC Theatre Company's production of, The Most Fabulous Story Ever Told . The play's opening night is Dec. 6.

The comedy features a twist on stories of the Bible. In one scene at the Garden of Eden, God creates Adam and Steve along with the first lesbians, Jane and Mabel.

We feel like we have a responsibility to speak out and say, 'this is wrong,' Rev. Steve Kern of Olivet Baptist Church said. Kern, who is running for a seat in the Oklahoma State Senate, says the play accepts a sinful lifestyle and anyone involved should pray that gays become straight.

Church leaders from across the metro are asking the city to prohibit the play from being performed on Oklahoma City property.



Update: Free Perfomances...

Maltese culture secretary proposes to exempt art and performance from morality and blasphemy laws

Link Here21st November 2013
Full story: Stage Censorship in Malta...Maltese censors ban stage play Stitching, then get disbanded
Theatrical and artistic performances In Malta look set to be exempted from morality and blasphemy laws under amendments soon to be discussed in Cabinet.

Culture Parliamentary Secretary Jose' Herrera said that he expected to receive Cabinet backing for the proposals because the removal of censorship was one of our [electoral] pledges .

Asked to explain what amendments were being proposed, Dr Herrera said artistic and theatrical performances would be made exempt from ordinary crimes related to morality in the Criminal Code. This included blasphemy laws, he confirmed.

The amendments were necessary because currently the police could impede any performance deemed to be in breach of the Criminal Code, Dr Herrera pointed out: The people should be the judge of artistic merit, not the police.

Age classification rules will remain in place. Exemptions will only apply to performances in designated spaces , such as art galleries. However pornographic cinemas will not be covered by the changes, Dr Herrera said.

Last year the official theatre censors were disbanded but theatre producer Adrian Buckle said those changes did not go far enough as performances could still fall foul of morality laws in the Criminal Code.



Tip Toeing Over Chinese Sensitivities...

Ballet censored for its run in Hong Kong

Link Here31st October 2013
Hong Kong Ballet censored its latest show by cutting a section of the performance about China's Cultural Revolution.

The censorship was noted after the local premiere of The Dream of the Red Chamber , a collaboration between the Hong Kong Ballet and Germany's Ballett Dortmund, at the Cultural Centre's Grand Theatre.

At the end of the ballet, a 12-minute projection sequence depicted different stages in China's history including the Ming dynasty, Qing dynasty, the provisional Republic of China and the Cultural Revolution. In the part depicting the Cultural Revolution, dancers in Red Guards uniforms waved copies of Mao Zedong's little red book , both historic icons of the turbulent period. Following the premiere, the projection sequence was cut from the show.

Some media reported that senior management from Hong Kong Ballet met their German counterparts and decided to self censor the section because of Chinese sensitivities.

Madeleine Onne, Hong Kong Ballet's Artistic Director, told a press conference that the projection sequence will be reinstated after it was improved in technical ways .



Offsite Article: Would it Pass Or Not...

Link Here14th September 2013
A Lebanese playwright has exposed the farcical sensitivity of the country's Censorship Bureau

See article from



Offsite Article: Video Police...

Link Here5th August 2013
Turkish police don't see the funny side to stage satire about the country's justice system

See article from



Cutting Strings...

Israel bans puppet festival claiming that it was critical of the state

Link Here10th July 2013

Israeli authorities have shut down  two theaters, one Palestinian-run, and one Israeli, for performing cultural theater performances that Israel considers to be critical of its political agenda and policies.

The affected theaters are the El-Hakawati Puppet Theater in East Jerusalem, and the Khan Theater in West Jerusalem.

The Puppet Theater was scheduled to begin this summer with a festival (the 19th annual El-Hakawati Puppet Festival), but the Israeli minister of internal security, Yitzhak Aharonovitch, shut down the festival by claiming that the El-Hakawati Puppet Theater was somehow connected with the Palestinian Authority. The theater owners vehemently deny that any of their funding came from the Palestinian Authority, and have opened their account books publicly to verify this fact.

The puppet festival was supposed to open on June 22nd, featuring Palestinian, Nordic, French and Turkish puppeteers. But the ruling by Aharonovitch prevented the festival from taking place as planned.

Over 1300 Israelis, including many actors, directors and artists, signed a petition condemning the shutdown of El-Hakawati Puppet Festival and Theater.



Update: Play Rights...

Maltese theatre company goes to European Court to content ban on the play, Stitching

Link Here29th June 2013
Full story: Stage Censorship in Malta...Maltese censors ban stage play Stitching, then get disbanded

A Maltese theatre company had planned to stage the play Stitching by Anthony Neilson. However the play was banned by the theatre censors. The controversy has resulted in the theatre censors being disbanded, but the play is still banned in the country. The legal dispute is continuing, now heading towards the highest court in Europe.

Unifaun Theatre Productions have now taken the case of the banned play Stitching to the European Court of Human Rights. This is in response to the Constitutional Court of Appeal upheld a ban on performing the production last November.

Unifaun had planned to stage the play at St James Cavalier in Valletta in 2009 but it was banned by the now defunct Film and Stage Classification Board. The board banned the play because of what it perceived as blasphemy, contempt for Auschwitz victims, dangerous sexual perversions, a eulogy to child murderers and references to the abduction, sexual assault and murder of children contained in the script.

The company said it was turning to the ECHR having exhausted all domestic judicial remedies.



Messiah Complex...

Russell Brand cancels shows in Abu Dhabi and Lebanon

Link Here21st June 2013

Russell Brand has cancelled several gigs in the Middle East on safety grounds. Russell told Radio 5 Live's Richard Bacon show: The venues contacted us to say we can no longer guarantee your safety.

The comic's Messiah Complex world tour includes routines inspired by historical figures including Malcolm X and Gandhi and originally included dates in Abu Dhabi and Lebanon, but they have now been cancelled.



Updated: Tasteless...

Modern take on Wagner Opera references the Holocaust

Link Here10th May 2013

A modern production of Richard Wagner's opera Tannhauser is causing a stir in Germany because of Nazi-themed scenes showing people dying in gas chambers and members of a family having their heads shaved before being executed.

The opera had performers inside glass chambers, falling to the floor as white fog billowed. After a half hour, the music stopped and a family stepped on stage. The parents and their children were having their hair shaved off and then they are shot dead.

Monika Doll, a spokeswoman for the Dusseldorf opera house said that members of the audience booed and were shocked by the opening performance. She said Deutsche Oper am Rhein is debating whether to censor the provocative parts, added to the original by producer Burkhard Kosminski.

Michael Szentei-Heise of the city's Jewish community told The Associated Press that the adaptation at the city's Deutsche Oper am Rhein was tasteless and not legitimate.

The director, Christoph Meyer, said: This is not about mocking the victims, but mourning them.

The original Tannhauser opera is set in the Middle Ages.

Update: Censored

10th May 2013. See  article from

The production, by director Burkhard Kosminski has now been unceremoniously pulled, with the theatre admitting it had been too much of a psychological and physical strain for many opera goers. For artistic reasons , Kosminski steadfastly refused to change the most offensive scenes after an initial barrage of complaints following the opening night on Saturday.



Playing Safe...

Singapore introduces self censorship for theatres but threatens yearly checks to make sure that they are toeing the line

Link Here16th March 2013

A new theatre censorship scheme has been announced by Singapore's Minister for Communications and Information, Yaacob Ibrahim. It is expected to take effect early next year, following amendments to the Public Entertainment and Meetings Act.

The Media Development Authority said that devolving the regulatory function to arts groups was in line with its principle of co-regulation and greater partnership with industry players.

The new term licence scheme will give out yearly licences to stage performances, instead of on a per-event basis, and allow arts groups to classify some or virtually all of their own performances without the need to submit scripts to the authority.

The yearly licensing scheme divides arts groups into two tiers. Tier1 groups can self-classify performances with a General rating and without racial, religious or political content. Groups with a good track record selected for Tier 2 can self-classify all scripted performances.

But their licence to do so is subject to an annual review, in which the authority will evaluate whether licensees have complied with regulations and classified performances 'accurately'.

The three types of ratings for theatre remain: General, Advisory and R18, restricted to audiences aged 18 and above. For works containing racial, religious or political content, an advisory of mature content or a rating of R18 may apply. An advisory attached to a performance is meant as a guide to help audience members make an informed choice when buying tickets and does not restrict admission.

Based on this framework, arts groups will have to send a representative to undergo a training programme on how to classify performances.

Most theatre practitioners say this additional layer of checks, instead of liberalising the current system of regulation, betrays the lack of trust in artists, and as Theatre Practice's artistic director Kuo Jian Hong puts it, amounts to regulating how we regulate .

One practitioner who took issue with the yearly-licensing and annual review is Chong Tze Chien, company director of the puppet theatre group The Finger Players. He said:

Why only a year? And who is it reviewed by? Essentially, the MDA is saying that it is still putting terms and conditions to whatever it is that we are doing. They don't trust the artist, at the end of the day, to be responsible.

He suggested that the review panel be an independent one comprising artists and audience members, instead of an authority panel acting on behalf of a group of conservatives who may or may not exist in reality .



Update: The Moscow Trials...

Russian authorities and christian nutters disrupt stage play about the persecution of Pussy Riot

Link Here4th March 2013

A performance of a play about the embattled Russian protest group Pussy Riot was disrupted in Moscow when immigration officials approached the Swiss director to ask for his travel documents.

Immigration authorities entered the Sakharov human rights museum, where the play was being staged, and harangued the director Milo Rau for holding a business visa that supposedly did not allow for work activity.

The play was later disrupted a second time when Orthodox Christian nutters and Cossacks gathered outside the venue to protest what they claimed was the play's antireligious content.

The play, called The Moscow Trials , tells the story of last year's trial of three Pussy Riot members for hooliganism after staging a protest against Vladimir Putin in Moscow's Christ the Savior Cathedral.




HighTide festival courts controversy with a play featuring blacked up actors

Link Here5th January 2013

An incendiary play at this year's HighTide festival in Suffolk is to feature actors in blackface despite recent calls for a boycott of theatres that continue to employ the practice.

HighTide and the Nuffield theatre will present the UK premiere of Branden Jacobs-Jenkins's comedy Neighbours , which requires black actors in blackface to play a family of minstrel performers.

The festival's artistic director Steven Atkinson, who will direct the new production, said it was:

one of the best new plays I've read in six years of running HighTide.

It's a progressive, intellectual drama that looks at identity, specifically contemporary African American identity, he continued. The real innovation of this play is not just that it addresses head-on a contemporary taboo -- the past popularity of blackface -- but it's what the Americans call 'form forward'. It's a play that's bold in content as well as how it's told.

Promotional material describes the play:

Neighbors by Branden Jacobs-Jenkins: Black face, not on my doorstep, not today.

Richard Patterson is not happy. The family of black actors that has moved in next door is rowdy, tacky, shameless, and uncouth. And they are not just invading his neighborhood-they're infiltrating his family, his sanity, and his entirely post-racial lifestyle.

This wildly theatrical, explosive play on race is an unconventional comedy which uses minstrelsy both to explore the history of black theater and to confront tensions in post-racial America.



Update: The River Runs Free...

Producer prosecuted for staging gay play in Uganda sees the case against him dismissed

Link Here4th January 2013

Charges against British theatre producer David Cecil were dropped by a Ugandan court on 2nd January. Cecil, who faced trial for producing a play with a gay theme without permission from the country's Media Council, told Index the magistrate had declared the case dismissed as the prosecution had failed to disclose any evidence.

Cecil was arrested in September last year, when his theatre company refused to halt its production of The River and the Mountain pending a content review by the Ugandan Media Council.

Index on Censorship and David Lan, the artistic director of the Young Vic, launched a petition calling for the charges against Cecil to be dropped which was signed by more than 2,500 people, including director Mike Leigh, Stephen Fry, Sandi Toksvig andactor Simon Callow.

Cecil told Index:

Evidently, there is a minority in the government and cultural industry who are willing to sacrifice the constitutional right to freedom of expression to their personal prejudices. However, the unsuccessful prosecution of this case is encouraging, and I pray that those working in the cultural industry are not put off by this oppressive and self-interested minority.

Mike Harris, Head of Advocacy at Index on Censorship said:

We're very pleased for David that the magistrate has dismissed this case --- but concerns remain over the state of free speech in Uganda. Since this prosecution, the Media Council has intervened to censor yet another political play. The government and its agencies need to do more to defend free speech.

Update: Deportation

9th February 2013. See  article from

David Cecil, the British theatre producer arrested in Uganda in 2012 for staging a play with a homosexual protagonist, is being held in police custody after being threatened with deportation.

Immigration officers took Cecil from his home in the outskirts of the capital, Kampala, on Thursday to Jinja Road police station, where he is being held. Fridah Mutesi, a human rights lawyer in Uganda, said the government did not disclose the grounds on which Cecil was being deported, but that it had the power to deport individuals deemed undesirable .

In January Cecil was charged with disobeying lawful orders by the Uganda media council, which said he had staged The River and The Mountain despite being told not to. The case was dismissed owing to a lack of evidence. It is believed that the deportation order is a result of his staging the play, which Cecil has described as a comedy drama about a gay businessman killed by his employees . The producer's lawyer, Godwin Buwa, said the government was unhappy about Cecil's court case last month being dismissed.

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