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Friday, 2 April 2010

Playing into the hands of racists

Bloody nannies in authority again, thinking they know better than the rest of us.

Nitwits in Dudley in the English West Midlands have banned an acclaimed play that features homophobia and racism because – well, because it features homophobia and racism.

So it seems such matters can’t be discussed now, because oversensitive prats think they know better. The issues raised by the play are not “suitable for a school and community setting for the venue”, say the nannies, even though the play seeks to show up these things.

Chances are they’re philistines who know bugger all about theatre. But who am I to say? Maybe they’re not philistines – but are acting like idiots. Whatever. It just seems to be so much more of the nanny state we’re living in, where those in authority would rather do a national group hug than tackle issues, lest some sensitive souls be offended.

The fact is that it’s designed to show up the very concerns it raises. How do you do that with drama without depicting what it is you’re highlighting? Do you have a play about the KKK without a pointy hood, or a play about gangsters without gangsters?

The play is Moonfleece. It’s the latest offering from the controversial Philip Ridley and was scheduled to be staged in the town last night, two days before a rally by the right-wing group the English Defence League was due to take place in the same town.

The Independent tells us:

Last week, the producer, Will Young, received a message from the theatre informing him that, after lengthy discussions, it had decided not to stage the play for fear of offending the local community. Yesterday, Dudley council said: “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.”

Moonfleece is about a young, right-wing activist who finds himself reassessing his beliefs as the brutality of the new-look British National Party (BNP) is exposed. It has a multicultural cast. It’s not a racist play. It's a play about racism. They are two different things.

The play’s director, David Mercatali, said he was “extremely disappointed” by the decision, especially since the play had sparked interesting reactions in the areas it had already shown, which include Bradford and the Aston area of Birmingham.

Will Young, says the Indie, said they had deliberately planned a tour that took in areas where the BNP was popular – Bradford, Leicester, Birmingham, Doncaster and Dudley – before returning to London in April for stints at the Riverside Studios and Greenwich Theatre. “Some residents in Dudley recently began a protest aimed at the building of a mosque, which was finally refused planning permission,” says the paper.

The point being? So some anti-Islam people get twitchy about a mosque, and that’s reason, it seems, for banning a play about racism (not that being anti-Islamic is racist, even if some racist thugs do use it as an excuse to be racist, but we can’t legislate for such attitudes).

Banning this performance just plays into the hands of the monsters it's trying to show up.

Young is further quoted as saying, “It’s about homophobia and racism and he [Ridley] didn’t want it to play in a theatre made up of your usual theatregoers, who are relatively removed from the issues to which the play relates. So we went looking for areas with people who are not big theatre audiences.”

Yup. Sounds sound to me.

1 comment:

Stuart Hartill said...

Dudley has had two famous sons, both comedians - Roy Hudd and Lenny Henry.
I seem to recall they were both made Freemen of the town, and if I was Lenny Henry, who, in weaving his family history into his work, has done a lot to emphasise the progress in multiracial harmony since his childhood, I'd be thinking of sending back the key to the town on the basis there are more comedians on the council than working for the BBC!