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22nd November

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Polish police arrest religious extremists trying to picket play
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death  and  the  maiden Polish police have arrested 12 people who tried to block the entrance to a theater performance they claimed to be pornographic.

Scuffles broke out late Saturday in Wroclaw when members of a Catholic organization tried to stop theater-goers from seeing Death and the Maiden , based on the work of Nobel Prize-winning writer Elfriede Jelinek.

The protesters objected to the presence on the stage of porn stars.

The government's new culture minister, Piotr Glinski, had previously called for the show to be canceled, noting the theater is sponsored by the state budget.

 

17th September

 Offsite Article: Ghosts of Censorship...

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ghostsArticle about a gay stage performance touches on the subject of censorship in Ireland

See article from irishtimes.com

 

30th August

  The Book of Mormon...


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So fucking good that even the advert censor appreciates the humour
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so fucking good An ad, in the Evening Standard, for the musical The Book of Mormon featured the quote SO F**KING GOOD IT MAKES ME ANGRY , which was attributed to Jon Stewart on the Daily Show. Issue

  1. Two complainants challenged that the ad was offensive and unsuitable for publication in a widely available newspaper.

  2. One complainant challenged whether the ad was unsuitable for children to see.

ASA Assessment

1. Not upheld

The ASA noted that F**KING was partly obscured by asterisks, but acknowledged that the intended meaning of the word was still clear. However, we considered, in the context of the ad, the word did not have a sexual meaning, but emphasised the extent to which Jon Stewart enjoyed the musical, while reflecting the adult content of the Book of Mormon and the language Jon Stewart used in his comedy. Therefore, we considered the word would be interpreted in a light-hearted context. We understood that the Evening Standard had a predominantly adult readership, and that the editorial sections reported on serious news events, while also regularly using explicit language. Therefore, we did not consider the ad would be offensive to those who were likely to see the ad. For those reasons, we concluded the ad was not likely to cause serious or widespread offence.

2. Not upheld

We noted that the Evening Standard had a predominantly adult readership and referred to explicit language in its editorial section. We considered its content included news events about serious topics that would not be of particular interest to children. Therefore, we considered that the newspaper in which the ad was published was unlikely to appeal to children and concluded that its placement was not irresponsible.

 

26th August

  Recommending Tagore's Dance Drama: Valmiki Pratibha...

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Followers of Indian religion to protest against dance drama at Birmingham arts centre
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tagores dance drama valmiki pratibha Followers of an ancient Indian religion are to gather outside a Birmingham theatre to protest over a play that depicts their guru as a villain.

Members of the Central Valmiki Sabha International organisation are 'outraged' that the production - Tagore's Dance Drama: Valmiki Pratibha - shows the group's guru, Bhagwan Valmiki GI, as a robber, looter and killer.

Worshippers from across the UK will demonstrate outside the Mac arts centre in Edgbaston on Sunday, the day the play is due to be performed. Representatives of other faiths, including Sikhs and Christians, are also expected to join the protest.

Jagdish Rai, general secretary of Central Valmiki Sabha UK, said:

There is a great deal of upset within our community. There has never been any evidence to suggest that our guru was a thief, he came from royalty. We will not have this and this is why we are planning this protest.

There are people from all faiths attending because they want to support our cause. If someone was saying something against their faith, they would feel the same.

This will be a peaceful protest. We are not interested in violence, we just want to get our message across. There will be a lot of people there because there is a great strength of feeling about this.

We are fine for the play to go ahead, but we want them to eliminate the part where they depict the person we worship as a thief and a thug because we do not believe this to be the case.

The play is being performed by Nrityakunj, a South Asian dance, drama and arts company based in Manchester, and choreographed by artistic director Mitali Dev. It has already been staged in London, Manchester and Liverpool.

 

19th August

 Offsite Article: That's Not Funny!...

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naca logoToday's college students in America can't seem to take a joke. By Caitlin Flanagan

See article from theatlantic.com

 

1st July

  Heads roll after William Tell misses its target...

Royal Opera House goers boo a naked rape scene in a 15 rated production of Rossini's William Tell
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william tell The opening night of William Tell at the Royal Opera House has been marked by boos over a rape scene with nudity. Some opera goers also booed at the end of the performance when the production team came on stage for the curtain call.

The BBC news report suggests that the booing may not have been totally aimed at the depiction of the rape, but may be connected with fundamentalist opera goers who feel that directors should stick more closely with operas as written. And in this age of the PC bully, they feel that their views should be heard above those of the director and other opera goers.

The Opera House issued a statement after the performance of Guillaume Tell apologising for any distress caused. Director of opera Kasper Holten said:

The production intends to make it an uncomfortable scene, just as there are several upsetting and violent scenes in Rossini's score. We are sorry if some people have found this distressing. 'Brutality and suffering'.

The scene puts the spotlight on the brutal reality of women being abused during war time, and sexual violence being a tragic fact of war.

Rossini's opera of the Swiss patriot, William Tell, who shoots an arrow that splits an apple atop his son's head, was directed by Damiano Michieletto.

The Stage gave the production one star. George Hall called it:

A dire evening in which the gratuitous gang-rape scene provoked the noisiest and most sustained booing I can ever recall during any performance at this address.

Michael Arditti, the Sunday Express theatre critic said the production represented a new nadir for the opera house and heads should roll .

But some were upset at the booing in the audience. Janice Evans wrote she was:

In shock at this level of intolerance exhibited in the ROH. I felt abused by their aggression and ashamed of their disrespect for the performers.

The Royal Opera's production of William Tell will be broadcast live on BBC Radio 3 on Tuesday 14th July at 5.50pm. The production is also being shown as live at cinemas and caries a BBFC 15 rating.

 

22nd June

  Culture Minister Vs Culture Community...

Israel theatre sees protest against culture minister who has vowed to gag criticism of the state
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miri regev Protesters gathered outside a Tel Aviv theater with tape across their mouths to protest Culture Minister Miri Regev's repeated vows to censor voices that insult Israel.

Regev, a member of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu s right-wing Likud Party who has been unabashed in her disdain for artistic projects that criticize the Israeli occupation, was at Tel Aviv's Einav Theater to present an award. She was booed by the protesters as she entered the theater, and heckled by several audience members as she took the stage.

The event occurred one day after Regev, in a televised interview on Israel's popular Channel 2 network, referred to artists as "tight-ass, hypocritical and ungrateful" people, comments she later backpedaled from a bit by clarifying that she only meant two specific left-wing artists.

The background to the tension is that filmmakers and producers rely heavily on public funds for most of their productions. Regev has repeatedly said she will not hesitate to cut public funding for projects that she feels defame or threaten the State of Israel, and earlier this week she blocked funds for Haifa's Al-Midan Arab Theater, which is currently staging a controversial production about the life of an Arab terrorist. She threatened to do the same for a joint Arab-Jewish theater after its director, the actor Norman Issa, refused to perform in the occupied West Bank. Issa later relented, and his funding was not cut.

 

17th May

  Playwrights for a Lost Cause...

Anti-Censorship stage show in New York cancelled over fear of religious offence
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playwrights for a cause A June anti-censorship event featuring four short plays addressing the critical and growing incursion of censorship into arts and culture has been cancelled by the venue, the Sheen Center for Thought and Culture in Greewich Village, New York

The event was a benefit for the National Coalition Against Censorship and the controversy was ignited by the segment, Mohammed Gets A Boner, a monologue that Neil LaBute contributed to the quartet of plays, called Playwrights For A Cause .

William Spencer Reilly, executive director of the Sheen Center, told the New York Times that when the the contract for the event was signed in February, he wasn't aware of the title of the play, which the Times deemed unfit to print. After reading the script, Reilly said, he cancelled the show because of the play's clear offense to Muslims. He said:

When an artistic project maligns any faith group, that project clearly falls outside of our mission to highlight the good, the true, and the beautiful as they have been expressed throughout the ages. The center will not be a forum that mocks or satirizes another faith group.

LaBute said the Sheen Center was was absolutely within their right to cancel the contract but added that he's saddened by the decision:

This event was meant to shine another light on censorship and it was unexpected to have the plug pulled, quite literally, by an organization that touts the phrase 'for thought and culture' on their very Web site. Both in life and in the arts, this is not a time to hide or be afraid; recent events have begged for artists and citizens to stand and be counted.

LaBute earlier praised the Coalition Against Censorship for:

Doing really important work at a time when people are actively striving to take away some of our most basic freedoms. I, for one, feel that these are the front lines for an artist--when you are asked to write/fight for what you've said you believe in. It is no longer enough to pay lip service to these ideas--it's time to stand up and be counted.

 

16th May

  The Fundamental Particles...

Houellebecq stage play banned from Dubrovnik festival over fears of religious violence
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Elementary Particles Michel Houellebecq A play by  the French writer Michel Houellebecq has been yanked from a prominent summer festival in Croatia, with officials alluding to fear of violence arising from Houellebecq's writings about Islam.

The Elementary Particles , a new stage work adapted from Houellebecq's own 1998 novel, was set to play at the Dubrovnik Summer Festival in July. But now a spokeswoman for the festival has confirmed that the play was cancelled following a risk analysis carried out by the Croatian Security and Intelligence Agency. She said that, based on that analysis, the Croatian Ministry of Interior determined that the play would represent a security risk.

But saying that,  this particular piece, The Elementary Particles, doesn't contain the author's incendiary views on Islam. The novel's plot follows the sexual lives of two half-brothers, Michel and Bruno, the former of whom is a biologist who is researching a potentially new race of human beings.

 

2nd February

  Free Speech Challenged...

Political correctness is running rife at universities, and is granting bullies and extremists the power of censorship
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adrenaline Chortle is reporting that feminist comic Kate Smurthwaite has had a show cancelled at Goldsmith's, University of London due to safety concerns resulting from threats of aggressive picketing of the event.

Smurthwaite, a feminist and atheist activist, was due to perform at the South London campus on 2nd February. But the show has been pulled after threats of a picket of the venue by some feminist students.

The group disagrees with Smurthwaites views on sex work. Smurthwaite hold the reprehensible belief that buying sex should be criminalised, while Goldsmith's Feminist Society is commedably in favour of legalisation of the sex industry.

However the Feminist Society voted in favour of Smurthwaite's show going ahead but some feminists students insisted they would picket the venue in protest at Smurthwaite's opinions.

In a post on Facebook, Smurthwaite pointed out the irony that her latest show is about free expression:

The strangest thing is that my show is not about prostitution. I don't even mention it. In a massively ironic coincidence my show is about free speech, it's power and uses and abuses. It is also about Saudi prisoner of conscience Raif Badawi who is now being nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize.
Meanwhile  The Guardian reports that research by online magazine Spiked, finds hat 80% of universities are shown, as a result of their official policies and actions, to have either restricted or actively censored free speech and expression on campus beyond the requirements of the law. Spiked's first ever Free Speech University Rankings show each university administration and students' union graded green, amber or red based on an assessment of their policies and actions. Institutions have been given an overall ranking based on the two combined.

Essex is among the worst performers in Spiked's research, one of five universities in which the student union and the administration are both assessed as actively preventing freedom of speech. The other four are Portsmouth, Northampton, Bath Spa and the University of the West of England.

The Universities are pulled up for the like of banning the Sun, Robin Thicke and for extreme political correctness.

Offsite Update: Maybe someone's taking someone for a ride

4th February 2015. See  article from  sexandcensorship.org