Written by Joe Dent
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Topics: sikh

Tuesday, 21 December 2004

image for Controversial Play Cancelled
Turban lodged in window.

The controversial play, Behzti, written by Gurpreet Kaur Bhatti has been cancelled after continued protests by members of the Sikh community and complaints by religious leaders.

Birmingham's Repertory Theatre ended the play's run after refusing to censor the work by changing the words, plot, characters and location. Such alterations, theatre management insisted, would have tinged the piece's complexion.

Instead, the theatre cited health and safety concerns as reasons for cancelling the play. One particular hazard was that of broken windows, damaged by bricks thrown by peaceful protesters.

A spokesman for the Sikh community said the play should have ended a week ago. He argued that it wasn't worth upsetting twenty million Sikhs.

This surprised the theatre's management, who didn't realise so many tickets had been sold. "I suppose it's just as well that the play was cancelled. I don't think the theatre could accommodate twenty million people, even if we let the play run for an extra week or two."

Since the protests began, theatres throughout the country have been frantically examining scripts for any religious references. Where found, such references are generally altered so as not to cause offence.

One theatre found no less than thirty-seven occurrences of the interjection, "Jesus Christ!" in a single play. All were replaced with the words "Gordon Bennett!"

Schools too have been carefully inspecting plays for controversial content. Alarmingly, several hundred nativity plays have been found to contain religious references. All have been scrapped.

Following the cancellation of the play, other groups around the country followed the Sikh example of trying to stop productions they found offensive.

A group of Krishna devotees in Cornwall protested against a theatre's production of a play featuring four bald men, one of whom carried a tambourine. They believed the play, "Four bald men in a band", was mocking their faith.

In Leeds, a pack of wolves gathered outside a theatre to demonstrate against a pantomime production of Little Red Riding Hood. A spokeswolf barked that the play's portrayal of the species Canis lupus was totally unacceptable. Other wolves howled in agreement. Although the protest was largely peaceful, several wolves were seen urinating in the theatre's entrance.

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The story above is a satire or parody. It is entirely fictitious.

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