Theatre in Wales

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Volcano's 'corruption' sees steamy night in Georgia     

VOLCANO Theatre Company has ignited a major debate over censorship in the South Caucus region after becoming the first performing arts group from the UK to be invited by the British Council to tour the area.

The Swansea-based theatre company staged its hard-hitting, award-winning production L.O.V.E. in the region but there were mass protests after the first night's performance in Georgia because of the "homosexual" scenes in the production.

The company has just returned to Wales, but artistic director Paul Davies said he was pleased the visit had opened the debate about censorship.

L.O.V.E. is a radical adaptation of Shakespeare's Love Sonnets.

The first night performance in Tbilisi caused rows over censorship and good governance in the former Soviet province before members of Volcano had even arrived in the region.

"The British Council is delighted that the show has opened up much-needed debate in the national media about issues such as church censorship, personal politics and female empowerment in such a positive way," said Mr Davies.

Information explaining the challenging nature of the show had been circulated to the general public, journalists and the host venue, the Marjanishvili Theatre in Tbilisi, two weeks prior to the event.

In addition, two leading Georgian TV channels had been running commercials with warnings that it was not suitable for under-16s.

On the day of the first performance, officials from the Georgian Orthodox Church made a radio announcement discouraging the Georgian public - especially Volcano's 16 to 35-year-old target audience - from seeing the show because of the "homosexual" scenes in it.

The show was performed to a packed house but there was restlessness in the auditorium with some walkouts in protest.

Towards the end of the show one or two paper missiles were thrown on stage and after threats of violent protests the theatre announced it would cancel the remaining two shows.

But Volcano is looking on it as a positive experience.

"While the cancellation of the shows have been a major disappointment for all involved and the ensuing threats have been somewhat disturbing to hear about, the general perception is that a much-needed debate about issues such as church censorship, personal politics and female empowerment has been opened up in the country and local media in a very positive way," said Mr Davies.
Western Mail  
web site
Karen Price
Tuesday, July 01, 2003back



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