Corpus Christi Cancelled After Blasphemy Protests

A play dramatizing the story of Christ and the Apostles has been closed down following protests from the neo-Nazi Golden Dawn party and religious groups that it was blasphemous, theater officials said.

Terrence McNally’s Corpus Christi, directed by Albania-born Laertis Vasiliou, had been staged at the Hytirio theater in the central Athens Gazi district for the past three weeks.

“Performances of Corpus Christi at Hytirio theater will stop. It was not our intention to provoke ‘religious sentiment’ or to create tensions,” organizers said in a statement on Nov. 1. They said they were sorry that people ended up being beaten and abused because of the play.
“We tried to go on with the play for three weeks. It was not possible… continuing as if nothing is happening is not a solution,” they said.

The Athens premiere of the play on Oct. 11 after opponents led by Golden Dawn staged a protest in which a journalist who was using his mobile phone to video it was beaten while police watched and did nothing and one person who was arrested was released from a police bus by a member of the party while police did nothing to stop him.

Vassileiou, who is of Greek origin, and Vassia Panagopoulou, one of the actors, said in announcing the cancellation that they didn’t want to provoke distress. t their goal was not to provoke such a distress. They said they respected the Greek Orthodox Church, which had objected to the play’s showing, but noted the work by American playwright Terrence McNally had appeared in other countries without protest and said the showing in Greece was brought down by religious fanatics.  The play has been asked to take part in two international festivals, International Theatre Festival MESS Sarajevo and Festival Iberoamericano de Teatro de Bogota.