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 [a key member of the group] book” that he wrote while in prison, and attempts to raise questions about “moral codes, justice and terrorism in recent Greek history”.
The violent far-left 17 November group formed in 1975, which has been linked to the assassinations of 23 people, including British and U.S. diplomats, disbanded in 2002 after several of its members were arrested. Greek authorities define the group as a terrorist organisation.
Protestors of the play – including Terrorism Victims’ Relative Group ‘Os Edo’ (Enough), conservative lawmakers, and the U.S Embassy in Athens – consider it to be insensitive to the survivors and families of the victims the group targeted, and also see it as an unacceptable use of state money since the theatre is government-funded, reported the Independent Balkans News Agency.
“The National Theatre, in particular its experimental stage, which is funded with state funds, opens the opportunity to Mr. Xiros to create Art,” Os Edo said in a statement, and continued to say that the play gave Xiros the “chance to become likeable”.
The U.S. Embassy in Athens stood by the group in their statement via Twitter: “While art should not be censored, we join ‘Os Edo’ in questioning if the public should fund the art of a terrorist”.
The National Theatre said the following in its statement defending the play:
Justice has tried and convicted the criminals – terrorists. Theatre as an Art does not intend to try them again, but to highlight key human problems. It is a public debate room. The Experimental Theatre, as a place of research of young artists, must grapple with dangerous issues, even it stands on the razor’s edge. Art should host the voices of those wronged and those who have been wronged, otherwise none of Shakespeare’s plays would have ever been performed.
The play opened on the National Theatre’s experimental stage in Athens on 15 January 2016 and was supposed to run through 31 January 2016, but closed on 27 January 2016.
Photo from the National Theatre Facebook page
» Independent Balkan News Agency – 3 February 2016:
Greece’s National Theatre stages play based on terrorist’s book, sparks controversy
» Reuters – 1 February 2016:
Greek theatre lowers curtain on political violence play as censorship row builds
» Broadwayworld.com – 29 January 2016:
National theatre of Greece cancels Nash’s Balance after threats of violence
» Greek Reporter – 27 January 2016:
U.S. Ambassador to Greece questions state-sponsored play based on terrorist’s book
» Greek Reporter – 26 January 2016:
Greek National Theatre play uses passages from terrorist’s book
» Artsfreedom.org – 30 October 2012:
Greece: Passion play cancelled after violent protests