Iraq: Model/actor found dead after being reported missing

Karar Nushi, a young actor, fashion model and student at the Institute of Fine Arts in Baghdad was found dead, in an apparent homicide, on 3 July 2017 after having been declared missing, reported Iraqi News. Nushi’s body was found in a garbage dump in central Baghdad two days after he was abducted by unknown […]

China: Performance artist sentenced to four years in prison

The Wuhou District People’s Court in Chengdu, capital of Sichuan province, sentenced performance artist Chen Yunfei to four years in prison for “picking quarrels and provoking trouble” related to his criticism of the Chinese government through art projects and social media, reported Human Rights Watch on 31 March 2017. The performance artist was originally detained […]

India: Comic receives death threats over stand-up video

Indian stand-up comic Kunal Kamra received death threats over a video of one of his sets ‘Patriotism and the Government’ that he uploaded on YouTube on 1 March 2017, reported First Post on 16 March 2017. The video begins with a slogan from a student protest in 2016: “India is a democracy, until you criticize […]

USA: Theatre artistic director re-instated after nude scene controversy

Burgess Clark, artistic director of Boston Children’s Theatre, returned to his position after having been suspended due to controversy over a nude scene in a production of ‘One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest’ that the director refused to remove, reported The Boston Globe on 10 May 2017. Two board members had demanded the director remove […]

Russia: Theatre, director’s home raided in fraud investigation

By Oksana Chelysheva The morning of 23 May 2017 in Russia began with news of a scandal that swept across social media – authorities searched the flat of Russian stage and film director Kirill Serebrennikov. Soon after, news came out that riot police raided Gogol Centre, the theatre that Serebrennikov has been artistic director of […]

Russia: Draft bill “protecting values” to be discussed by Duma

By Oksana Chelysheva Russia’s State Duma will discuss a bill at the end of May 2017 that would seek to “protect high important values” in public, extending to art venues and cultural establishments, including galleries, theatres and museums. In March 2017, Russia’s Civic Chamber, the country’s consultative civil society body tasked with analysing draft legislation […]

Turkey: A prolonged tragedy for theatre

Students protesting the dismissal of their professors with presidential decrees in Ankara University.  Photo:   The level of suppression against art in Turkey can only be grasped by going deep into details and history. Sacking of 4,464 public servants including 330 academics sounds alarming, but knowing it also meant the practical closing down of […]

Spain: Rapper appeals three-and-a-half-year prison sentence over lyrics

Spanish rapper Valtonyc (real name Miquel Arenas Beltrán) and his lawyer confirmed they presented an appeal to the Spanish Supreme Court to repeal his three-year-and-six-month prison sentence on various charges related to his lyrics, reported Europa Press on 9 March 2017. The Spanish National Court, a High State Court directly under the Supreme Court that […]

Tunisia: Imams call for removal of play poster

‘Alhakumu At-Takathur’ (Miscarriage) play director Nejib Khalfallah was forced to censor the play’s poster after being verbally attacked by Islamists and conservatives for using part of a Qur’anic verse in the title, reported The Arab Weekly on 26 February 2017. On 16 February, Tunisian National Theatre (TNT) received a warning from the National Union Council […]

USA: Artists arrested, banned, receive death threats related to Trump actions

Italian opera tenor Andrea Bocelli and US singer Jennifer Holliday both backed out from performing at the US presidential inauguration of Donald Trump just days before the event revealing they received death threats if they went ahead with their performances, reported Daily Mail on 15 January 2017. “They were saying I should kill myself or […]

USA: Censorship continues in public spaces and schools

Throughout 2016 and into the beginning of 2017, the US has seen multiple cases of censorship and attempted censorship of art in public spaces and schools. Murals on public walls or in university halls, books in school curricula and productions of plays and musicals have all been targeted by a variety of groups because of […]

Israel: Police temporarily shut down Palestinian theatre

Israeli forces posted a notice outside the el-Hakawati Theatre (also known as the Palestinian National Theatre) in Jerusalem stating the theatre would be closed from six o’clock in the evening until midnight on 8 December 2016 to prevent the performance of a musical they claim is linked to the Popular Front for the Liberation of […]

Russia: Artistic freedom threatened by nationalist and orthodox groups

While Russian president Vladimir Putin vowed in a meeting with film directors and artists in early December 2016 to protect artistic freedom, he also said artists carry a responsibility not to offend religious believers, saying “there is a very narrow divide between dangerous shock value and freedom of creativity”, reported The New York Times on […]

Switzerland: Zurich cuts theatre’s funds in light of controversial play

The canton of Zurich cut its 2017 grants by 50,000 Francs (approx. $49,000 USD) to Neumarkt Theatre following the staging of a controversial play by artist Philipp Ruch that mocked publisher and parliamentarian Roger Köppel, member of the right-wing Swiss People’s Party (SVP), reported on 7 December 2016. During the play, the public was […]

Turkey: The Freemuse Files on Censorship of the Arts

For almost 20 years, Freemuse has documented violations on freedom of musical expressions and since 2012 also violations on other art forms in Turkey. ‘Turkey – The Freemuse Files’ is the first in a series of Freemuse compilations. The idea is to provide our readers, network partners and policy makers with an easy, quick overview […]

Singapore: Two performances cut from festival due to ‘excessive nudity’

Two performances – Ming Poon’s ‘Undressing Room’ and Thea Fitz-James’ ‘Naked Ldies’ – were cut from the 2017 M1 Singapore Fringe Festival after the Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA) assessed they exceeded the R18 age rating, according to the festival’s statement released on 5 December 2016. Festival organisers added that while the artists were willing […]

Poland: Creative freedom undermined in cultural revolution

Every government has the right to conduct its own cultural policy and to determine its own priorities and strategies. But what has been happening in Polish culture since the nationalist-Catholic rightwing ‘Law and Justice’ Party (PiS) took power in the autumn of 2015 has not been a normal democratic correction. It has instead been a […]

Spain: Theatre organisers cancel show under interest group pressure

Three theatre organisers who were putting together multi-day event ‘Night of the Dead 2016’ in Águilas, a Spanish coastal town, decided to cancel all scheduled Halloween activities after an association that defends mentally ill people and their families filed a complaint to the city’s town hall over one of the play’s representations of mentally ill […]

Kenya: Draft law on film and theatre censorship broad and severe

Ezekiel Mutua, Kenya Film Classification Board (KFCB) CEO, has come under fire ever since he unveiled a draft Films, Stage Plays and Publications Act in September 2016 intended to replace the outdated 1963 Films and Stage Plays Act, due to it extending the board’s responsibilities to regulating all parts of the creative process, instituting severe […]

Bosnia and Herzegovina: Play goes on after public persuades organisers

Theatregoers at the 56th annual MESS festival in Sarajevo persuaded festival organisers to not cave under pressure from Catholics and Muslims, or give in to threats from violent groups, and put on controversial director Oliver Frljic’s play ‘Our Violence and Your Violence’, reported The Washington Post on 10 October 2016. Bosnian Cardinal Vink Puljic filed […]

South Korea: Alleged government blacklist of 9,473 artists over politics

South Korean daily newspaper Hankook Ilbo revealed on 11 October 2016 that the South Korean government blacklisted 9,473 artists from receiving state support, including financial support, due to their political activity of either being critical of the current government or backing opposition politicians, reported The Korea Times on 12 October 2016. The 100-page blacklist is […]

India: Actor challenges theatre censorship in court

On 20 September 2016, veteran actor and filmmaker Amol Palekar filed a petition to the Bombay High Court to challenge the Maharashtra state’s pre-censorship of plays, the practice of needing censor board approval of scripts before plays can be staged, reported news outlet The Quint on 28 September 2016. Of the 29 states in India, […]

United Kingdom: University cancels musical due to race row

A theatre at the University of Bristol cancelled all showings of its student production of musical ‘Aida’ due to protests over potential “cultural appropriation” that white students would be cast in the lead roles of ancient Egyptians and slaves, reported The Telegraph on 4 October 2016. The musical, written by Elton John and Tim Rice […]

Russia: Theatres in an age of government intimidation

This article on the increasingly difficult environment theatres face for the content they stage from various Russian government bodies was originally published on 18 August 2015 by The Theatre Times, who have kindly allowed Freemuse to re-publish it here: Intimidation Tactics Caitlin Connell and Patrick Connelly have spent the summer in Moscow looking at the current […]

Morocco: News site publishes blacklist of artists with alleged ties to Israel

On 9 September 2016, Moroccan news site Noon Presse published its own blacklist of seven Moroccan performers and artists who have “normalised” relations with Israel, which means, according to the site, that the artists have chosen “to go against the flow” by “unashamedly visiting Israel or communicating with Israelis”. The blacklist includes three musicians, two […]

Zimbabwe: Artist abducted and tortured

Artist and activist Silvanos Mudzvova is recovering in a Harare hospital after six armed men abducted him from his home late in the evening on 13 September 2016, drove him out of the capital city and brutally tortured him, Mudzvova told Freemuse from his hospital bed. “The people who took me were well trained and […]

Egypt: Satirist troupe released after long detention, restrictions remain

A Cairo court ordered the release of four members of the satirist troupe ‘Street Children’ after it granted their appeal over a tenth renewal of their pre-trial detention that would have extended their already four-month-long imprisonment by 15 more days, though the investigation on various charges related to their online videos will continue, reported Aswat […]

Turkey: The coup still continues for the art scene

The state of emergency following the failed coup in Turkey on July 15, 2016 resulted in increased pressure against artists. The already-ongoing attack against freedom of art has accelerated after the coup attempt. Artists are trying to keep their heads up under the pressure, while the government is planting the seeds for a total transformation […]

Greece: Artistic freedom at stake

Censorship incidents and controversies over artworks have multiplied over the last few years in Greece, particularly since the crisis hit the country in 2008. At the same time, legal controversies over blasphemous and obscene publications continue while hate crimes are on the rise, as exemplified by the murder of young rapper Fyssas in 2014.   […]

Thailand: Two imprisoned actors released early

Two actors, Patiwat Saraiyaem and Pornthip Munkong, serving a two-and-a-half year prison sentence under the controversial ‘lèse majesté’ law – defaming, insulting or threatening the royal family – have been released early in a royal pardon, reported PEN International on 5 September 2016. Saraiyaem was released 55 days early on 12 August 2016 and Munkong was […]

India: Artists struggle with censors over LGBT and other themes

In recent months filmmakers and playwrights have been challenging Indian certification boards after works focusing on LGBT, political and religious themes have come under fire by censors, especially at a time when nationalist ideas and groups are gaining traction in the public and political spheres. LGBT themes in film India’s Central Board of Film Certification […]

Egypt: Satirist troupe’s detention renewed, totalling 105 days

The Giza Criminal Court rejected satirist troupe Street Children’s second appeal against their lengthy pre-trial detention and further extended their detention by yet another 15 days, meaning that the four members of the group have been in detention for 105 days awaiting an investigation or even a court date, reported Daily News Egypt on 1 […]

Turkey: Writer arrested amidst crackdown after coup attempt

Turkish police arrested novelist Aslı Erdoğan on 16 August 2016 in a raid on her apartment after a Turkish court ordered the temporary closure of newspaper Özgür Gündem. Erdoğan is on the advisory board of the newspaper. The closure is part of an intense state-of-emergency crackdown in response to a failed coup attempt on 15 […]

Nigeria: Performance artists cleared of charges

The Ejigbo Magistrate Court cleared performance artist Jelili Atiku and five other artists on 18 July 2016 of all the criminal charges against them stemming from a public performance piece staged in Lagos in January 2016, reported civil society organisation Arterial Network on 22 July 2016. “We are very pleased to learn that the charges […]

Egypt: Satirist troupe’s detention renewed, amounting to 75 days

A North Cairo court decided on 2 July 2016 to renew the detention of satirist troupe Street Children for yet another 15 days, reported Egyptian online news source Aswat Masriya on 2 July 2016. This latest renewal is the group’s fifth such consecutive ruling totalling 75 days in detention as they await ever-delayed court proceedings […]

Russia: Ministry censors theatre company’s festival performances

Government authorities have banned Russian independent theatre company Teatr.doc’s production of the play ‘Pushkin and Money’, scedduled to be part of a theatre festival on 12 June 2016 at the Moscow Hermitage Garden, reported The Calvert Journal on 13 June 2016. In a Deutsche Welle interview with the play’s director Anastasia Patlay, published on 13 June 2016, […]

Singapore: State regulators call for same-sex kiss removal in musical

A brief peck between two male actors in the musical Les Miserables staged at Singapore’s Esplanade Theatre was cut from the production after the state’s Media Development Authority (MDA) said it violated the show’s ratings and received public complaints, reported Channel News Asia on 11 June 2016. Authorities said in a statement that the kiss […]

Egypt: Five members of satirist troupe arrested

As the climate for artists, journalists, intellectuals and regular citizens who wish to criticise, politicise or simply satirise current Egyptian values and society gets more heated and dangerous, a troupe of young comedians has become the latest group to be targeted by authorities. Freemuse stringer Shahira Amin reports on the recent developments in the deteriorating state […]

Slovakia: Theatre play stopped by controversial governor

On 13 March 2016, a community theatre production of play ‘Kováči’ (Blacksmiths) in the central Slovakian town of Brezno was halted halfway through its performance by controversial Banská Bystrica regional governor Marian Kotleba, who has already been embroiled in a fight with local theatres, reported The Slovak Spectator on 16 March 2016. The play, which […]

Zimbabwe: Theatre producer arrested for staging one-man play

Police arrested theatre producer and actor Silvanos Mudzvova on 13 April 2016 in Zimbabwe’s capital Harare for staging his new play ‘Missing Diamonds, I Need My Share’ at parliament, reported national newspaper News Day. Mudzvova was released later that evening, according to the artist’s Facebook status update on 14 April 2016: “Cdes, colleagues and friends […]

Burundi: Comedian detained for making fun of president

Popular Burundian comedian and radio host Alfred Aubin Mugenzi, known popularly as Kigingi, was arrested and detained for three days by SNR agents from the country’s national intelligence service on 29 March 2016, family members told News 24 on 1 April 2016. Agents told the comedian’s family that he was arrested for contempt for a […]

Artistic freedom in Zimbabwe: Joint stakeholder report submitted to the UN

Zimbabwe should abolish its Censorship Act and any prior-censorship bodies or systems, according to a joint stakeholder submission to the UN’s Universal Periodic Review process (UPR) by Freemuse and Nhimbe – two civil society organisations defending artistic freedom in Zimbabwe and globally. COPENHAGEN/BULAWAYO, 31 MARCH 2016 | Zimbabwe’s 2013 constitution guarantees the right to freedom […]

Nigeria: Performance artists face new, unexpected charges

Performance artist Jelili Atiku, along with five other artists, appeared in court on 7 March 2016 for their first hearing related to a public performance piece staged on 14 January 2016, which led to their arrest four days later. At the hearing, the original four-count charge was changed to seven counts, unbeknownst to the defendants […]

USA: Jewish community theatre cancels play

The Michael-Ann Russell Jewish Community Centre in North Miami Beach, Florida chose to cancel the drama ‘Crossing Jerusalem’ after community members protested the anti-Jewish elements and “false paradigm of the Arab-Israeli conflict” they felt the play portrayed, reported newspaper South Florida Sun-Sentinel on 29 February 2016. “Please know that our intentions in presenting ‘Crossing Jerusalem’ are […]

Zimbabwe: Comedy’s cautious climb

Zimbabwe’s nascent comedy scene is quickly spreading across the southern African nation, from its capitol’s urban landscape to other major cities; and growing in its diversity, from its humble beginnings in stand-up to news satire distributed via DVD. However, in its infancy, comedy in Zimbabwe still faces challenges as the topics it touches upon make […]

Spain: Puppeteers arrested and accused of “glorifying terrorism”

On 6 February 2016, during a satirical children’s puppet show in Madrid, two puppeteers were arrested because their show featured the hanging of an effigy of a judge, the stabbing of a nun with a crucifix and several police beatings, according to the Spanish paper The Local. Puppets in the show held up a sign […]

India: Play banned for topless scene

The National School of Drama (NSD) has banned Polish play ‘Sonaka’ throughout India due to a nudity scene wherein a woman appeared topless, reported Odisha TV on 13 February 2016. The play, put on by Polish-based troupe Alexander Jiereko and part of the NSD’s national theatre festival, was enacted in the eastern state of Odisha […]

Egypt: Theatre play banned in governorate of Suez

The governorate of Suez has banned the theatre play ‘Ghaybouba’ (‘Coma’), starring well-known Egyptian actor Ahmed Bedeir, in response to a public outcry over its tarnishing of Egypt’s 2011 Revolution and its martyrs. The governorate of Suez is home to the first martyrs of the 25 January uprising against Mubarak in 2011. The decision allegedly […]

India: Controversy over State Censor Board for Theatre

Theatre playwrights and performers in Gujarat and Maharashtra are questioning and condemning the State Censor Board for Theatre for having suggested 19 cuts in a Marathi play entitled ‘Jai Bhim, Jai Bharat’. The board which certifies theatre scripts as fit for public consumption asked playwright Jandardan Jadhav to change ‘Khairlanji’ to ‘Vairanjli’, ‘kutra’ (dog) to […]

Greece: Political play shut down due to threats

A play revolving around the Greek 17 November urban guerrilla group entitled ‘Nash’s Balance’ was shut down four days early due to threats to actors and theatregoers, reported Reuters. According to the director Pigi Dimitrakopoulou, the political play was “inspired by literary and historical texts, the minutes of the 17 November trial and Savvas Xiros’s […]

Nigeria: Artist arrested for political performance piece

Performance artist Jelili Atiku was arrested on 18 January 2016 for his performance entitled ‘Aragamago Will Rid this Land off Terrorism’, which he staged on 14 January 2016 in the Ejigbo area of Oshodi-Isolo in Lagos state, reported News 24 Nigeria. The artist and four others were arrested on a four-count charge of disturbing the […]

Russia: Theatre director says culture ministry vets new plays

A prominent Russian director has said theatres are required to approve new plays with the culture ministry, raising concerns of a return to censorship in a more conservative cultural climate. Valery Fokin, the award-winning artistic director of St Petersburg’s Alexandrinsky theatre, told the Ekho Moskvy radio station classic plays were not subject to oversight, but […]

Turkey: Children’s play banned due to “inappropriate” song

A play that has been staged for children for the last 14 years was banned in the Çankaya District Directorate of Education of Turkey’s capital Ankara for having one song deemed “inappropriate”, reported Today’s Zaman on 14 January 2016. Playwright Serap Gültekin told newspaper Radikal that the application to stage her play ‘My Chess Pieces’ […]

Poland: Controversies over theatre plays

Censorship of play by Nobel Prize winner Elfriede Jelinek calls attention to the precariousness of state funded art in Poland By Anna Gotowska   Less than a month after winning the November 2015 elections in Poland, the conservative Law and Justice party gained international attention for its controversial internal politics. One of the most heated […]

Indonesia: Activists raise concern about limits on artsfreedom

Cultural and human rights activists have expressed outrage and concern after police placed a ban on an arts event scheduled to take place at Jakarta’s Taman Ismail Marzuki cultural centre on 15 December 2015. According to the Jakarta Post, the police cited “practical reasons of security” as their reason, rather than any question of political censorship. Jakarta […]

Lebanon: Play banned after director refuses to make changes

The General Security’s Censorship Bureau on 16 November 2015 banned playwright Lucien Bourjeily’s ‘Beirut Syndrome’ from being performed after he refused to alter sentences in the work, reported The Arabic Network for Human Rights Information. Bourjeily submitted his play for approval on 23 October 2015. After review, the bureau called for the removal of two […]

Poland: Culture minister wants to ban Nobel winner’s play

Poland’s new culture minister, Piotr Gliński, wants to ban a production by one of the country’s leading theatre companies of a play by the Nobel prize-winning author Elfriede Jelinek, claiming public money must not be used to subsidise “pornography”. The move by Gliński, who is also deputy prime minister in the new conservative Law & […]

Zimbabwe: Censorship board should be abolished, says workshop group

Zimbabwe should abolish the censorship board and other bodies censoring or regulating artistic expressions in order to comply with Zimbabwe’s new constitution. Instead a new classification board should be mandated to issue age recommendations to protect children. This was a recommendation made by arts practitioners, artists, journalists and human rights lawyers at a workshop on […]

India: Play demanded banned by Catholic church

The Catholic Church in India has demanded a ban on the play ‘Agnes of God’, an adaptation of American playwright John Pielmeier’s drama about a nun giving birth to a child. The church has alleged the play is a ‘wrongful portrayal’ of priests and nuns committed to a life of celibacy and hurts the sentiments […]

United Kingdom: Play cancellation sparks censorship row

An independent girls’ school in Ipswich has ignited a censorship row after it pulled a Rebecca Lenkiewicz play scheduled for 13 October 2015 due to “grave reservations” over its portrayal of child sex abuse. Censorship campaigners claim the move is part of worrying trend among schools and other education bodies to cancel productions that deal […]

Canada: National theatre company of Iraq denied entry

The National Theatre Company of Iraq had to cancel their scheduled performance an award-winning play about refugees, called ‘Camp’, in Canada after the group was denied permission to enter the country. The actors were scheduled to perform at the IMPACT 15 International Theatre Festival in Kitchener, Ontario. Their play tells the stories of two refugees […]

South Korea: Arts Council accused of political censorship

Through Arts Council Korea, the Korean government allegedly attempts to censor cultural contents. Artists and their projects have been banned from government financial support for political reasons, reported Korea Herald on 22 September 2015. Yeo Jun-suk wrote for Korea Herald that lawmakers from the main opposition party have upped their pressure on the government to […]

Turkey: Actor dismissed from theatre over criticism of government

Actor Levent Üzümcü has been dismissed from the İstanbul City Theatre after he was recently referred to the İstanbul Metropolitan Municipality’s disciplinary board over a series of statements and speeches he made criticising the government. Üzümcü announced the disciplinary board’s decision to fire him on his Twitter account, writing: “I am very thankful that, as […]

United Kingdom: Theatre play addressing radicalisation cancelled

A play about Islamist radicalisation in British schools was canceled in August 2015 just two weeks before opening night, prompting speculation the actors, writers and developers had been censored. The play, ‘Homegrown’, was due to be performed by the National Youth Theatre at the UCL Academy in North London. It was developed using interviews with […]

Morocco: Continued harrasment and banning of performances

In Morocco, performances of the theatre piece ‘B7al B7al’ have repeatedly been interrupted and banned: On 13 June 2015 in Rabat, on 4 and 5 July in Tangiers, and then on 1 August in Fez. ‘B7al B7al’ is a creation of the Theatre of the Oppressed company from Casablanca – Théatre de l’Opprimé Casablanca – […]

Saudi Arabia: Comedian receives death threats over tv satire

The news that Saudi actor Nasser Al Qasabi (also spelled: Naser Al Gasabi) had received death threats after he made fun of the Islamic State fighters, ISIS, in one episode of his comedy series titled ‘Selfie’ went around the planet in June 2015. “Saudi comedian Nasser Al Qasabi has implemented the weapon of humor to […]

Israel: Artists up in arms over remarks by Culture Minister

Israel’s new Culture and Sports Minister Miri Regev sparked a furore when she threatened to defund a children theatre managed by an Arab Israeli if he refused to perform in the Israeli-occupied West Bank. Israeli artists and leading cultural figures gathered Sunday 14 June 2015 to try and consolidate an approach against Culture Minister Miri […]

Ecuador: Dance performance cancelled under pressure from Chinese embassy

On 22 May 2015, Falun Dafa – an organisation responsible for bringing the dance show “The Monkey King” by the Shen Yun Performing Arts Company to Ecuador, reported it had been the victim of censorship, following the decision of the Ecuadorian House of Culture to suspend activities at the National Theatre, affecting performances of the show […]

USA: Anti-censorship theatre even censored

A benefit event for the National Coalition Against Censorship (NCAC) scheduled for 14 June 2015 at The Sheen Center in New York City, was abruptly called off after the theatre hosting the show deemed some of the content offensive. The event has since been rescheduled. The show was cancelled by Sheen Management, which sought to […]

International coalition appeals to Cuba: Drop charges against performance artist

Along with an international coalition of arts and free speech advocacy groups, Freemuse appeals to the Cuban government to dismiss all charges against artist Tania Bruguera after she attempted to stage a performance about free speech in Havana’s Revolution Square. Bruguera, an internationally renowned performance artist who splits her time between the United States and […]

Turkey: Izmir Opera cancellation of ‘Carmina Burana’ sparks censorship concerns

Censorship allegations concerning Turkey’s state-run art institutions have taken a new turn with the İzmir State Opera and Ballet’s removal of “Carmina Burana” from its repertoire at the last minute, two days before the world-famous cantata was set to be performed at the Ahmed Adnan Saygun Arts Center in an evening performance on Saturday 2 […]

United Kingdom: Horror film featuring neo-Nazis terrorising Jewish family banned

A British film censorship board has banned a U.S. horror movie that contains scenes of neo-Nazis terrorising a Jewish family. The movie, ‘Hate Crime’, depicts anti-Semitic thugs breaking into the family’s home and mutilating and sexually abusing family members, according to the Chronicle. The British Board of Film Classification ruled that a substantial part of […]

Russia: Culture Ministry to probe ‘blasphemous’ Novosibirsk opera

Russia’s Culture Ministry has announced plans to launch a probe into a beleaguered Novosibirsk production of Richard Wagner’s opera ‘Tannhäuser’, which has provoked the ire of certain powerful members of the Russian Orthodox Christian community. Director Timofei Kulyabin’s rendition of the opera has been performed at the theatre since December 2014. But then an administrative […]

Egypt: Premiere performance deemed ‘inappropriate’ and cancelled

Freemuse received the following press release from Sondos Shabayek on 17 March 2015: State theatres belong to the people, not the State Hanager Theatre has blocked the premiere performance of ‘500s’ on 15 and 16 March 2015. The manager of the Hanager Theatre, Dr Amany Youssef, prevented the premiere performance of the play, ‘500s’, which […]

United Kingdom: Public debate warns of self-censorship in the arts

Artistic institutions in Britain are increasingly self-censoring subversive material to secure funding and avoid protests, according to a panel of arts grandees. Jude Kelly, artistic director of the Southbank Centre, Munira Mirza, deputy mayor for education and culture, and Shami Chakrabarti, director of human rights organisation Liberty were among those who called the rise of […]

Thailand: Imprisonment of student actors stirs criticism

Two theatre actors were sentenced to two and a half years in prison on 24 february 2015 for staging a play in 2013 that was deemed defamatory to the monarchy. Patiwat Saraiyaem, 24, a fourth year student at Khon Kaen University, and Pornthip Munkong, 27, former coordinator of Prakai Fai Theatre Troupe, were found guilty […]

Thailand: Actors prosecuted for political play

On 23 February 2015, two members of a now-defunct theatre group Prakai Fai (‘Sparking Fire’) have been sentenced to two and half years in prison under the draconian Article 112 of Thailand’s Criminal Code. Pornthip Mankong aka Golf, 26, and Patiwat Saraiyaem, 23, performed in a political play called Jao Sao Maa Paa (‘Wolf’s bride’). […]

USA: 60 artistic directors protest firing of theatre director

According to reports in the Washington Post, the artistic director of Theater J, Ari Roth, was fired with the stated cause being “insubordination.” 60 national theater companies protested the firing in an open letter with playwright Tony Kushner writing that Roth “was fired because he refused to surrender to censorship.” In building Theater J’s reputation […]

Cuba: Performance artist detained twice

On 30 December 2014, several Cuban dissidents – journalists, activists and artists – were arrested, including artist Tania Bruguera who played a key role in organising a free speech event on the day. She was released soon after, and then detained and released again a second time. A note posted on Facebook stated: “Bruguera may not leave […]

Turkey: Tv-drama and theatre directors arrested in crackdown

“Scores of media figures” were detained in a police raid on 14 December 2014, reported Hurriyet Daily News. Tv-drama producer Salih Asan, director Engin Koç and scriptwriter Makbule Çam Alemdağ were among the detained. Salih Asan was the producer of a controversial tv-drama called ‘Şefkat Tepe’ (literally translated as ‘Affection Hill’) which depicted the Prophet […]

Afghanistan: Theatre performance attacked by suicide bomber

On 11 December 2014 a 17-year-old suicide bomber blew himself up inside a school auditorium in Kabul where a theatre play condemning suicide bombing, ‘Heartbeat: Silence After the Explosion’, was being presented by students of Kabul University’s Cinema and Theatre Department of Fine Art Faculty Several persons were killed by the bomb blast which came […]

Turkey: Many artists bow to censorship orders, says theatre director

According to the veteran Turkish stage actor and director Genco Erkal many artists in Turkey are bowing to censorship orders from municipal or state officials “because they want to be able to draw on opportunities offered by municipalities.” “Many fellow [actors] comply with terms imposed by municipalities just so they can receive funds,” Genco Erkal […]

USA: NCAC raises curtain on theatre censorship in public schools

National Coalition Against Censorship in the U.S. has published a toolkit for organising against theatre censorship in public schools: ‘The show must go on’ “Censorship of the theatre has existed since its emergence as an art form. From Oedipus Rex to Cabaret, some of the most artistically rich theatre has been disturbing, subversive, transformative, and often a target of […]

Russia: Moscow fringe theatre faces ‘censorship’ with eviction

Founded in the early years of Vladimir Putin’s rule, Teatr.Doc has made enemies with documentary work that explores the social and political fall out from Russia’s slide towards authoritarianism. In a move that has shaken the international theatrical community, the Moscow authorities have ordered Teatr.Doc to vacate the property on grounds that it had violated […]

Russia: Moscow theatre company faces eviction by the city

On 15 October 2014, the Moscow Administration’s Property Department quietly terminated the lease contract with Teatr.Doc, a small 50-seat independent theatre company that has occupied the premises for the past 12 years. Russia’s art community was quick to respond to and protest the move, which they saw as politically motivated.  By Masha Egupova Activists and […]

Lebanon: Anti-censorship play receives surprise approval

Locked in a two-year battle with Lebanon’s General Security bureau, playwright Lucien Bourjeily never imagined his verbatim ‘docuplay’ about the censorship process would make it past the censors. But it did. By Jessica Holland A play that examines Lebanon’s censorship system has been approved by the country’s office in charge of artistic permits, a decision […]

USA: Events around banned books, censored theatre and hate speech

On 21 August 2014, the National Coalition Against Censorship published the following newsletter with information about a series of interesting, upcoming events in New York City on free speech, banned books, censored theatre and hate speech: COMEDY, CONVERSATION AND CONTROVERSY: LEWIS BLACK, KATE CLINTON AND LIZZ WINSTEAD Monday, 8 September 2014, 7pm @ 92nd Street […]

Poland: Dissident theatre director fired by city mayor

Ewa Wojciak, director of Poland’s Theatre of the Eighth Day, was fired by Poznan mayor Ryszard Grobelny on 28 July 2014. His administration oversees culture and arts in the city, including Wojciak’s subversive and anti-establishment theatre group. The official reason given was that she did not ask for permission to leave the city between 18 and […]

India: Attempts to censor political theatre

Organisers and artists performing in the tiatrs – Konkani theatre – may soon have to submit a formal undertaking to south Goa’s biggest and most well-known state-run theatre performing facility, the Ravindra Bhavan, promising not to speak against politicians, government officials and VIPs, while performing onstage. » Sourced through from:

United Kingdom: Theatre piece containing nudity censored

Actress Elizabeth Sogorb is being forced to wear a flesh-coloured catsuit in her performance of La Nina Barro at the fringe because venue The Newsroom has objected to the nakedness which is an integral part of the show. The performance involves Sogorb starting the piece covered in clay, which is washed off over the course […]

Egypt: Index on Censorship interview about censored theatre play

‘Shout Art Loud’ – a ‘living report’ from the freedom of expression charity Index on Censorship about art and sexual violence in Egypt – describes how the play ‘The Bussy Monologues’ was censored after its first performance in 2010. The directors of the play had a visit from the “morality police”, the tourism police, State […]

India: Supreme Court breaks police stranglehold on theatre

“If Chennai doesn’t have vaginas, it is full of a#*holes!” quipped Mahabanu Mody Kotwal in the opening act of The Vagina Monologues when it was staged in Mumbai. The veteran theatre actor and director had good reason for using the pun. In December 2010, when the play was to be staged in the city for […]

Lebanon: Theatre director claims ‘victory’ after receiving passport back

Lebanese theatre director Lucien Bourjeily said General Security returned his passport which the security apparatus had confiscated for unclear reasons. Lucien Bourjeily announced on his Facebook page that it was a “victory” over what he called an arbitrary confiscation and a curb on his freedom of movement. The director was shortlisted for a Freedom of […]

Turkey: Protests against proposed arts council

Turkish artists and arts organisations fear that a new draft bill prepared by the Erdoğan government will serve as a tool for the government to crack down on free expression of artistic work, creativity and cultural themes The bill is seen as a tool to give the government the absolute power to shape the arts […]

Turkey: Artistic freedom of expression under threat

A piece of art was censored in November 2013 during the exhibition titled ‘Will There Be An Intervention?’ at the 23rd Istanbul Art Fair. The exhibit was primarily focused on works of art inspired by the Gezi Park protests, and it included many secular-minded domestic and foreign artists. The censored piece was a portrait of […]

United Kingdom: Theatre poster censored ‘to avoid offence’

A poster depicting a gagged Prince Charles to promote a controversial new play, ‘King Charles III’, on at Islington’s Almeida Theatre in London, United Kingdom, was censored on the London Underground network. » Source: » See also:

Lebanon: Increase in cultural censorship

“The alarming security situation in 2013 had a negative impact on media and cultural freedom in Lebanon,” wrote Firas Talhouk in the SKeyes Center for Media and Cultural Freedom’s annual report on press and cultural freedom in the Levant. Censorship of media, media activists and bloggers increases during periods of political tension – the same […]

Israel: Gaza theatres battle censorship and conservatism

A lack of female performers, the siege and close monitoring by the Hamas government has resulted in a dwindling Gaza theatre industry, reported Al Monitor. Hanouna said that the theater’s decline began about eight years ago, “when artists started self-censoring their work and thinking of the ruling authorities and their opinion about plays and the […]

India: Play cancelled due to protests from Hindu fundamentalists

After dates for the performance ‘Ali J’ were announced, it was banned from being staged in three different cities. “In spite of obtaining prior permission from the city police regarding the play, a team of police came to the venue and told us to cancel the show at the last minute. It was shocking for […]

UK: Four artists shortlisted for Freedom of Expression Awards 2014

British theatre producer David Cecil, Lebanese playwright Lucien Bourjeily, Egyptian rapper Mayam Mahmoud and the Turkish writer Arikan are shortlisted for the Index Awards 2014, which during 14 years have honoured some of the most remarkable fighters for free expression from around the world. The award show takes place in London, United Kingdom, on 20 […]

Lebanon: Theatre play banned in ‘climate of fear’

On 28 August 2013, director and filmmaker Lucien Bourjeily was summoned to the Lebanese Censorship Bureau and told that his play, ‘Will It Pass or Not?’, could not go ahead. The play, which tackles the theme of censorship head on, poses the difficult question that any Lebanese artist who explores controversial or sensitive issues must consider. The Winter 2013 […]

Ethiopia: Book about censorship of arts in the Ethiopian society

‘Maekeb’, which means ‘Sanction’, is a new book by Endalegeta Kebede. It focuses on the censorship challenges experienced by creative members of Ethiopian society. The Reporter in Addis Abeba and the global website published a review of the book, written by Neamin Ashenafi, on 8 February 2014. Excerpts: In countries like Ethiopia, where democracy […]

Northern Ireland: Council reverses Bible play ban

A council in County Antrim has reversed a decision to cancel a play that some councillors had said was blasphemous. Newtownabbey Borough Council’s artistic board last week cancelled the Reduced Shakespeare Company’s ‘The Bible: The Complete Word of God (Abridged)’. The comic play was booked to run at the council’s Theatre at the Mill from […]

Iran: Actor denied work over resemblance to Ahmadinejad

Iranian actor Mahmoud Basiri, who resembles former President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, says that he was banned from acting during the former president’s two terms in office. Basiri said that he had signed contracts to play parts in television shows and had even recorded numerous scenes. But when the television shows aired, the scenes that featured him […]

Northern Ireland: Bible comedy play banned on accusations of blasphemy

A light-hearted play about Christianity written almost 20 years ago was cancelled by councillors in Northern Ireland who deemed it “blasphemous”. Northern Ireland’s Culture, Arts and Leisure Minister Carál Ni Chuilín expressed disapointment about the cancellation and said she supported the ‘right to freedom of expression’. “I am saddened that audiences here will not be […]

Turkey: Playwright and author exiled after death threats

In the days after the Gezi Park protests in 2013, Turkish playwright and author Meltem Arikan found herself at the centre of a government-led hate campaign that left her fearing for her life. Arikan, now living in the United Kingdom, left Turkey because of the vicious and sustained campaign against her on social media and […]

Russia: Christian activists sabotage theater production

Ultraconservative Christians who have previously targeted erotica exhibits, Pastafarians and supporters of feminist punk group Pussy Riot have attacked a theatre performance in Moscow. Dmitry Enteo and a female accomplice hijacked the stage during a performance of Konstantin Bogomolov’s ‘An Ideal Husband’ at the Chekhov Moscow Art Theatre on 28 November 2013. The duo spent […]

Malta: Moves afoot to end theatre censorship

Artistic performances in Malta set to be exempt from morality laws. “Theatrical and artistic performances will be exempt from morality and blasphemy laws under amendments to be discussed in Cabinet in Malta in the coming weeks. Culture Parliamentary Secretary José Herrera said he expected to receive Cabinet backing for the proposals because “the removal of […]

India: Growing intolerance against artistic expression

Paresh Rawal, one of India’s best-known cinema and theatre actors, talks about his play being stopped and growing political intolerance against cultural expression in India. See on Film release was hush-hush: UR Ananthamurthy The film ‘Samskara’ was released without much fanfare because there was a threat that it would be banned. This was disclosed […]

Egypt: Theatre of the revolution

With most spaces state owned and requiring censor approval for performance, it is difficult for independent theatre to find a place to develop. Despite limitations due to censorship and spaces to perform, the artists push one another to find alternative solutions to their problems. By Chalaine Chang And Giulia Bertoluzzi 8 November 2013 See on […]

Belarus: Cultural censorship as state policy | Index

Keeping tight control over every sphere of social life is the general policy of the Belarusian authorities. This is true not only about politics, economy or media; arts and culture face censorship as well. Zmitser Yanenka reports from Belarus. Zmitser Yanenka’s article contains three sections: Music: to “black lists” and back • Interview with Aleh […]

Iran: Interview with theatre director Tinoush Nazmjou about censorship

In this interview with IranWire, the exiled theatre director Tinoush Nazmjou – one of Iran’s prominent young directors – talks about his enthusiasm for returning to Iran and experimenting with creative work under an atmosphere heavy with limitations. He talks about the creative contrast between working freely and under censorship, Iran’s theatre scene, and how social […]

USA: Citizens group advocates censorship of anti-Israeli theatre plays

In an apparent bow to the right in the Jewish culture wars, Theater J, a celebrated theatrical group housed at Washington’s DC Jewish Community Center, will not produce a play that has been denounced by critics as ‘anti-Israel’. “A small yet vocal group seems to be holding the artistic and ethical sensibilities of the Jewish […]

Uganda: Censorship, pay offs and deportation | Index on Censorship

“Artists have been censored, paid off or even deported, delivering big blows to artistic freedom of expression in Uganda in the process,” wrote Edward Ronald Sekyewa, Executive Director of Hub for Investigative Media, in an article which was published on Index of Censorship’s website on 4 October 2013. Read the article

Book with accounts of artists’ resistance to religious extremism

Here is a book which describes a largely invisible global community of writers, artists, doctors, musicians, museum curators, lawyers, activists, and educators of Muslim heritage around the world who often risk death to combat the rising tide of fundamentalism within their own countries. ‘Your Fatwa Does Not Apply Here’ is written by Karima Bennoune, a […]

Turkey: Actor allegedly persecuted by newspaper

“My life is not secure, I have applied for protection through my lawyers,” said the Turkish actor Memet Ali Alabora who directed and acted himself in a theatre piece entitled ‘Mi Minör’ to support the protestors around Gezi in Istanbul. Yeni Şafak newspaper made an extensive coverage on Mi Minör, saying that it was the […]

Lebanon/UAE: British comedian cancels tour after threats

British comedian and actor Russell Brand had been booked to perform in United Arab Emirates and Lebanon on his ‘Messiah Complex’ world tour, but those gigs have now been cancelled because of threats from religious groups. “I was told that if I went there there would be problems,” Russell Brand told Radio 5live: “The venue […]

India: Artists protest against state-sponsored censorship

A protest march demanded that the Bombay High court immediately release of members of the cultural troupe Kabir Kala Manch. Published on on 8 May 2013. On 2 May 2013, artists, writers, journalists, filmmakers, students, cultural activists and actors from theatre groups marched in protest from Sriram Centre to Maharashtra Sadan in Mumbai demanding […]

Myanmar/Burma: Corporate censorship is gaining control

Thangyat is a traditional form of entertainment performed for the New Year Thingyan Water Festival in Burma / Myanmar which takes place this week. Thangyat was banned by the military government after the uprising in 1988 but was kept alive in exile before being allowed back last year. But corporate censorship is now comfortably stepping […]

United Kingdom: Previously banned Swedish play premiers in English

Banned in the United Kingdom for 50 years when first written, Strindberg’s play ‘Miss Julie’ shocked critics across Europe with its frank portrayal of sexuality and inter-class relationships in 19th century society. Now Canterbury’s Gulbenkian Theatre is to host the world premiere of a 21st century English adaptation of it. The Swedish play ‘Miss Julie’ […]

Sweden: Lecture on shelter cities for persecuted artists

Playwright Reza Haji Hosseini will give a 45-minutes lecture on shelter cities for persecuted artists and the conditions for dramatic arts in Iran at the Swedish Biennial for Performing Arts on Saturday 25 May 2013 at 1pm in Jönköping.
 In the early 1990s, a movement among cities in Europe and America was started to shelter […]

Kenya: Theatre play about oil explorations banned

Officials from the Ministry of Education in Kenya banned the winning theatre play ‘Shackles of Doom’ from the National Drama Festival set for Mombasa in April 2013, on the grounds that it contains hate speech, reported George Orido for Standard Media. Ouko Okusah’s NTV Kenya report on was viewed 15,800 times during the first […]

India: Theatre activists arrested

Theatre activists Sheetal Sathe and Sachin Mali were arrested on 2 April 2013 on various charges, including criminal conspiracy and for alleged links to Maoists and Naxalites. They are being held in Mumbai, India, and according to Amnesty International they are at risk of torture or other ill-treatment. Sheetal Sathe and Sachin Mali are members of […]

Algeria: Hunger strike of Performing Arts students ended

The hunger strike is over after 11 days, and according to the Algerian newspaper Liberte, the students won the first round. The Minister of Culture is now talking with the students. It is however not likely to be the last crisis in Algeria. The students from the Higher Institute of Arts and Audiovisuals, ISMAS will […]

Algeria: Performing Arts students on hunger strike

We have received the following message from  “ALERT!!! Presently on hunger strike, the students of the Algerian High Institute of Performing Arts and Audio Visual are threatened by police and their institution is illegally closed.” “Desperate, a group of students of The Algerian High Institute of Performing Arts and Audio Visual (ISMAS) are on […]

United Kingdom: Play about honour killings censored by BBC

The BBC has been accused of an “extraordinary” act of censorship after it cut a line from a controversial playwright’s drama on BBC Radio 4. Gurpreet Kaur Bhatti, whose 2004 play Behzti sparked riots and death threats and was cancelled by a Birmingham theatre over concerns about public safety, was commissioned by Radio 4 to […]

Denmark: Row over Muslim satire

“Every muslim must know that there are consequences if you make fun of Islam,” says Abu Zakaria and calls for a boycott of the new Danish satire-series entitled ‘Det Slører Stadig’, broadcasted by the public service channel DR2. In the tv-programme, four young women with immigrant background from Iran, Jordan and Bosnia take a satirical […]

Turkey: Short play focuses on sidestepping of freedom of speech

Turkey experiences an increased sidestepping of the freedom of speech, writes Swedish PEN’s Dissident Blog which has published a theme issue with 12 texts about Turkey, including a short play, entitled ‘Forbidden Chirping’, by artist and poet Yeşim Ağaoğlu. Yeşim Ağaoğlu belongs to the new generation of leading artists and poets in Turkey who are […]

Denmark: Theatrical performance about artistic freedom of expression

On 18 January 2013, a theatrical performance which focuses on the artistic freedom of expression versus artistic silence premieres at Theatre Grob in Copenhagen, Denmark. Inspired by the reality and the whole matter surrounding the imprisonment of members of Pussy Riot in Russia, the show, entitled ‘Stalin’s Boots’, focuses on questions such as: Why is […]

Malta: Ban of theatre play upheld by Constitutional Court

Shocked producers of the play ‘Stitching’ will take their case to the European Court of Human Rights after Malta’s Constitutional Court of Appeal on 29 november 2012 upheld a ban on performing the production in Malta. “We feel that this sentence is not a gag on the play ‘Stitching’ but on all artists,” stated the […]

Denmark: Row over ban of theatre group’s burning flag

This photograph of a naked woman and a burning Danish flag was supposed to have been promoting a new production by the theatre group Danskdansk (‘Danishdanish’) in the capital of Copenhagen. But the advertisement agency Clear Channel did not want to see it displayed on the back of 18 Copenhagen buses, and the director of […]

Banned Zimbabwean artist calls for a way to appeal a ban

Award-winning actor, writer, director and producer Tafadzwa Muzondo, whose play ‘No Choice, No Voice’ was banned for political reasons, says it is unjust to ban a work without giving artists the chance to appeal. The law in Zimbabwe provides for a board of appeal, but none exists at the moment, and according to the newspaper […]

Syrian actor killed – allegedly for supporting the president

The well-known Syrian-born Palestinian actor Mohammed Rafia is believed to have been killed by rebels because of his support for President Bashar al-Assad. “His death is a sign of the abyss of personal hatred and violence into which Syria has fallen,” wrote BBC’s reporter Sebastian Usher. An extremist rebel group says it killed him, though […]

Uganda: Theatre play that criticises president banned

Uganda’s authorities have banned a play that criticises President Yoweri Museveni’s government, the play’s co-director and co-author John Ssegawa has said, according to BBC News. The play, ‘State of the Nation’, highlights alleged corruption and poor governance in Uganda, ruled by Yoweri Museveni for 26 years. “ ‘State of the Nation’ has staged at the […]

Greece: Passion play cancelled after violent protests

The American passion play ‘Corpus Christi’ was planned to be staged in Athens, Greece, in October 2012. However, the premiere was cancelled after right-wing organisations, including the Greek Nationalist parliamentary party Golden Dawn, violently protested against the play.   Playwright Terrence McNally wrote the play in 1997, and he received death threats when it was […]

Israel: Theatre director Zakaria Zubeidi released on bail

Zakaria Zubeidi, theatre director and one of the founders of the Freedom Theatre in Jenin, Palestine, was released on 1 October 2012. He has been detained in a prison in Jericho since 13 May 2012, most of the time without charges. Zubeidi was detained during a wave of raids and arrests in his home city […]

Uganda: Theatre producer face a two-year prison sentence

British theatre producer David Cecil, 34, was granted bail after a couple of days in a prison near the capital Kampala, but his passport was confiscated, and he is due back in court on 18 October. He could face a two-year prison sentence if convicted. David Cecil is charged with “disobedience to lawful orders” from […]

Uganda: Media Council bans performance with homosexual theme

Performances of a play about the struggles of a young, gay Ugandan businessman was halted by Media Council authorities one day before its scheduled opening night at the National Theatre in Uganda’s capital, Kampala. ‘The River and The Mountain’, written by the British playwright Beau Hopkins, portrays a corporate businessman coming to

Zimbabwe: Board of Censors ban a theatre play

On 3 September 2012, Radio COP reported that Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) have petitioned the High Court seeking to overturn a ban of the theatre play ‘No Voice No Choice’. The play ‘No Voice No Choice’ – a production by two community theatre groups, Edzai Isu Theatre Arts Project and Zvido Zvevanhu Arts […]

Afghanistan: Death threats force Afghan actress into hiding

21-year-old actress Sahar Parniyan says she is living a nightmare after a fellow actress, Benafsha, was murdered by unknown men during the Eid celebrations in Afghanistan’s capital Kabul. Sahar Parniyan used to perform in Afghan drama serials and tv shows together with 22-year-old Benafsha. Khaama Press reported that she has changed her home address from […]

Afghanistan: 22-year-old tv actress murdered

On 20 August 2012, Benafsha, a 22-year-old tv actress, was stabbed to death as she was going to a bakery in the western part the capital Kabul. It was said that the roles Benafsha played in tv series were considered to be “against Islamic values and moralities” Benafsha was killed right after she had participated […]

Turkey: Theatre journal banned from city library

The Academic Journal of Mimesis on Theatre Translation and Research has been banned from a city library in Turkey because it is found to be ‘obscene’. The journal Mimesis is delivered to city and town libraries in Turkey by the country’s Ministry of Culture. The formal brief sent by Elazığ City Library Administrator, Ahmet Pirinççi, […]

Malta: Theatre censorship law debated in parliament

A bill replacing theatre censorship with a classification system was presented to the Parliament of Malta in March 2012. It was expected that the bill would be approve, but the opposition requested more time for discussion. The parliamentary debate is set to continue in October 2012. In January 2012, the Maltese government announced plans to […]

Iran: Theatre performance permission denied, theatre-goers allegedly harassed

Teheran police have been surrounding theatre halls in large numbers, allegedly in an attempt to make attending these venues uncomfortable for theatre-goers, reported the web site Iranian stage actor Reza Behboudi said in an interview with the Iranian Labour News Agency (ILNA): “The large number of police patrolling the theatre halls does not help […]

Israel: Two on hunger strike for The Freedom Theatre

In an Israeli military court hearing on 5 July 2012, the Artistic Director of The Freedom Theatre, Nabil Al-Raee, was accused of possessing guns, and helping a wanted person (Zakaria Zubeidi) as well as three other wanted (but unnamed) persons. In response to the accusations Nabil declared that he is starting a hunger strike from […]

Kazakhstan: Theatre director released after three weeks in prison

Theatre director and activist Bolat Atabayev was released from detention on 3 July 2012 in Almaty, and charges against him were dropped. Bolat Atabayev had been detained on 15 June 2012 and charged with “inciting social hatred” in connection with protests by striking oil workers in the western city of Zhanaozen, where at least 16 […]

Israel: Theatre director arrested by the Israeli army

At approximately 3:15 in the morning of 6 June 2012, the Israeli army entered the home of Nabil Al-Raee, Artistic Director of The Freedom Theatre, and arrested him. The soldiers refused to tell Al-Raee’s wife where they’d be taking him and why.   Jonathan Stanczak, who will be on stage at the World Conference on Artistic […]

Belarus Free Theatre: Strong criticism of repression in Belarus

“Everything has changed for the worse,” said Natalia Kaliada, exiled co-founder of the Belarus Free Theatre, in an interview with the British newspaper The Guardian about the escalating brutality in her homeland. “New arrests are taking place. New people are going to jail for long-term sentences. Even rock concerts are banned in Belarus. Nothing has […]

Myanmar/Burma: Seven performance artists face charges

Seven Burmese performance artists will face charges in a Mandalay court on 31 May 2012 after they allegedly broke an obscure law last week by performing in public with five foreigners who were subsequently deported. Irrawaddy’s Man Thar Lay writes: Officials from Mandalay’s Police Station No. 2 charged seven artists on Tuesday 29 May 2012 […]

Turkey: Prime Minister will not tolerate criticism from state funded theatres

The Turkish prime minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan threatens to withdraw state support from the country’s 22 city theatres after his daughter said she was insulted by an actor during a play. What some are calling “Turkey’s culture war” began in April 2011 when the prime minister’s youngest daughter, Sümeyye Erdogan, 30, walked out of a […]



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