Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Anti-Fascist Play Banned in Britain

BNP play banned amid fears it will 'inflame local tensions'
A theatre play that criticises the British National Party has been banned from the town of Dudley amid fears it could offend parts of the local community.

By Andrew Hough
Published: 10:30AM BST 30 Mar 2010

Moonfleece, a critically acclaimed play from Philip Ridley, the provocative playwright, has been banned by council chiefs from showing in the West Midlands town.

Producers were reportedly told by council officials that following “lengthy discussions” they had decided to ban the play amid fears it would offend parts of the local community.

The decision to prevent it from showing at the Mill Theatre in the city’s Dormston Centre on Thursday was attacked as hypocritical and an affront to free speech.

Critics also claimed the play, which explores the rise of the far-right party, would appease right-wing and BNP sympathisers.

According to the show’s website it has already been shown in some of the country’s most racially sensitive areas including London, Leicester, Birmingham, Doncaster and Bradford.

Producers say they deliberately chose those areas, which are considered strong BNP areas, to "start a conversation about the far right”.

The play, which has won rave reviews from critics, is set in an abandoned council flat, in East London with the main character, Curtis, haunted by the disappearance of his brother, Jason.

Boasting a multi-cultural cast it centres on a young, right-wing activist forced to reassess his personal and political beliefs as the brutality of the new-look BNP is exposed. It explores the rise of right-wing nationalism and homophobia.

Mr Ridley, 45, said he was outraged by the "hypocrisy" of the decision.

He said he was "heart-broken" the play would not be staged in an area where racial and social issues were important to the local community.

David Mercatali, the play's director, said he was "extremely disappointed" by the decision while Will Young, the show’s producer, said he had been told the area had strong BNP support.

"(The play) is about homophobia and racism and he (Mr Ridley) didn't want it to play in a theatre made up of your usual theatre-goers, who are relatively removed from the issues to which the play relates,” he told The Independent.

“So we went looking for areas with people who are not big theatre audiences.”

A spokesman for Dudley council said: "The Mill theatre at Dormston High School had been hired for the production, however the booking was cancelled as the school did not feel some of the issues raised within the play were suitable for a school and community setting."

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