Tuesday, December 21, 2004

Behzti dropped after protests

Violent protests by Sikhs in Birmingham have led the Birmingham Repertory Theatre to drop Gurpreet Kaur Bhatt's play Behtzi, reports BBC News. The theatre dropped Behzti, which depicts murder and sex abuse in a temple, on safety grounds after protesters clashed with police.
Neil Foster, of the Birmingham Stage Company, said the decision to cancel the play had been made by "cowards".

He said he was now looking at staging the performance at the Old Rep Theatre.

Mr Foster told BBC Radio 4's PM: "I think it's one of the blackest days for the arts in this country that I've ever experienced."
Update: The Guild has been busy defending the rights of writers (Gurpreet Kaur Bhatt has, reportedly, gone into hiding). Guild General Secretary Bernie Corbett, quoted in both The Independent and on BBC News, said that the decision to withdraw the play could lead to other theatres becoming reluctant to stage risky material.
"If you can get a big enough crowd, then you can suppress something. That's a terrible principle. Over the next months and years, it makes it less likely that they're going to take the plunge with anything slightly challenging or controversial, about any subject at all, where a mob might be whipped up."

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