It's been a bad year for freedom of speech in the international theatre community. In May, New York's Manhattan Theatre Club nearly canceled Terrence McNally's new play Corpus Christi after Catholic groups protested its depiction of a gay, Jesus-like figure. Then, earlier this month, government officials in Shanghai prevented the appearance of the Chinese opera The Peony Pavilion at the Lincoln Center Festival 98, claiming the opera was demeaning to Chinese culture.
The latest country to suffer from theatrical censorship is India. According to the Associated Press, the producers of the play Nathuram Godse Speaks were forced to cancel a production when hundreds of angry protesters gathered outside the theatre. The crowd claimed the play celebrated Nathuram Godse, the assassin of Mahatma Gandhi, one of the nation's founders. The drama has also been assailed in newspapers and the Indian Parliament.
Playwright Pradeep Dalvi, meanwhile, reportedly asserts the work airs the views of both Gandhi and Godse. Godse, a Hindu nationalist, assassinated Gandhi in 1948. According to AP, Godse was angered by Gandhi's gestures towards Muslims. India is primarily Hindu.
Chances of remounting the play do not look good. Indian Home Minister Lal Krishna Advani has apparently advised local officials in Bombay to close the play. The work had previously been banned in 1986.
-- By Robert Simonson