On 26 May 2018, thirty protesters from local extremist group Decent People rushed onto the stage during a theatre festival in Brno in an attempt to disrupt the performance of the play “Our Violence and Your Violence” by Croatian director Oliver Frljic, reported Total Croatia News and ITI Action Committee for Artist Rights.
In a letter of protest submitted by Mladinsko Theatre to the Embassy of the Czech Republic in Ljubljana, the management of the theatre details the violence that was unleashed on the performers:
“The performance was brutally interrupted by the group of violent right extremists…who started to yell in the middle of the performance, to throw papers at the actors, then came to the stage, formed a cordon and pushed the actors backwards spitting on them.”
The letter also states that despite the presence of police, the attackers were not apprehended on the grounds that “the group has the right to express their opinion”. The theatre further insisted that “the Brno police…did not come to prevent the violence and protect freedom of speech and artistic expression, but were rather waiting for the violence to happen before they reacted”.
Eventually, the protesters were removed from the theatre by the police and the play was able to resume until completion. Senator Eliska Wagnerova has since filed a legal complaint against their conduct on the suspicion of rioting, wrote N1 and Prague Business Journal.
Frljic is no stranger to controversy. In February 2017, “Klątwa” (The Curse) premiered at the Powszechny Theatre in Warsaw. Following the premiere, scenes from the play were broadcast on Polish national television TVP without permission in order to highlight “problematic” scenes out of context, consequently leading to protests by religious and nationalist groups condemning the play. Eventually state prosecutors announced that Klątwa was under investigation over allegations of hate speech and inciting spectators to murder.
“Our Violence and Your Violence” is based on “The Aesthetics of Resistance” by Peter Weiss and reflects Frljic’s concerns surrounding fascism and islamophobia, according to ITI Action Committee for Artist Rights.