Greek theater lowers curtain on political violence play as censorship row builds

Mon Feb 1, 2016 7:54am EST
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By Renee Maltezou

ATHENS (Reuters) - The cancellation of a Greek National Theatre play critics had attacked as glorifying convicted killers has ignited a debate on political violence and art censorship in the country that began staging theater around 2,600 years ago.

The "Nash Equilibrium", a fictional political thriller loosely based on Greece's deadly November 17 guerrilla group, is seen through the prism of a militant.

It made headlines when it was called off in late January after two weeks of performance on the National Theatre's experimental stage. It followed protests by relatives of victims and by conservative lawmakers.

But demonstrations by actors and free-speech supporters outside the theater in central Athens led to one final performance on Sunday night.

"Today's performance is a victory which belongs to all of us," one of the actors said through a loudspeaker, before free tickets for the play were handed out to dozens of people waiting outside the theater.

The five actors, who performed without their original props and costumes, were welcomed on stage to strong applause.

Freedom of expression is a particularly sensitive issue in crisis-hit Greece, which has a history of political violence, including from November 17 and during the 1967-1974 rule by a military junta.

November 17 killed 23 people, among them U.S. and British diplomats, before being dismantled in 2002. Those arrested and convicted have been sentenced to multiple life times in prison.   Continued...

The closed entrance of the Greek National Theatre's experimental stage, that hosted the fictional political thriller "The Nash Equilibrium" for two weeks before it was called off, is seen in Athens, Greece, February 1, 2016.  REUTERS/Alkis Konstantinidis