Birmingham Stage Company

Interesting Times

20 May 2006

Couple of interesting days coming up: I've been invited to Ireland to join a panel discussion on Freedom of Speech at the Theatre Forum conference. I guess this is because of my comments about BEZHTI, the play that was cancelled by the Birmingham Rep after violent demonstations broke out at the theatre by Sikh protesters. I immediately felt and still do that it was terrible mistake by the Rep to cancel the show, which they felt they were forced to do because the continuing threat of violence. Yet people all over the world are constantly facing up to the threat of violence against freedoms which we in this country sometimes take for granted.

I strongly felt that all sides in the dispute ducked their responsbilities. I wasn't very popular amongst some of the theatre community, who were sympathetic to the Rep's position. But where does it stop? How many other freedoms do we sacrifice in the face of intimidation by people who don't allow for alternative views or beliefs? In my view the country changed on that day. It was a bad day for Birmingham, a bad day for theatre, a bad day for the Sikh community and a bad day for the country.

On a brighter note (!!) the BSC are off to Buckingham Palace to celebrate the Queen's birthday on 25 June. THE JUNGLE BOOK is forming part of the backdrop in the palace garden's and Mowgli and his friends will be in a jungle enclave. Let's hope the weather is equally tropical!

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