Catholic extremists are set to disrupt a play at one of Paris’s best-known theatres because it attacks religion and consumerism, they claim.
“French fundamentalist Catholics have been waging a sometimes violent campaign of protests in recent months against works they perceive as blasphemous, picketing plays and pelting theatre-goers with eggs,” according to the Times of Malta.
The play in question, Golgota Picnic, by the Argentinian director Rodrigo García, has just done a run in Toulouse, and is moving to the Théâtre du Rond-Point on the Champs-Élysées.
While it was showing in Toulouse, it attracted a storm of protest from religionists, who accused the theatre of “Christianophobia.”
“Two men linked to the fundamentalist Catholic movement were arrested in the basement of the theatre on Saturday as they attempted to disable the venue’s alarm system,” says the Times of Malta article.
During the play, the bread that represents the flesh of Christ is depicted as buns that litter the stage, while consumerism is depicted by actors making hamburgers of meat and live worms.
Jesus is described as a “bloody devil” in a monologue, and his apostles as “12 losers among the millions who listened to Christ.”
Does it offend?
The theatre does warn on its website (in French) that “We draw your attention to the fact that this show contains statements that may offend some sensibilities.”
And the website advises: “Du 8 décembre au 17 décembre 2011, afin d’assurer la tranquillité et la fluidité de l’entrée en salle des spectacles, nous vous conseillons d’arriver au théâtre 1 heure avant le début des representations” (“From December 8 to December 17, 2011, to ensure the peace and smooth entry into the auditorium, we recommend you arrive at the theatre one hour before performances”).
When the play opened at the Garonne Theatre in Toulouse, the theatre’s manager, Jacky Ohayon, “insisted Rodrigo García’s play was not blasphemous and pointed out it had run for six months in the Spanish capital Madrid ‘with no trouble’,” according to a November report by the BBC.
The Toulouse diocesan website carried a message from Archbishop Robert Le Gall, who said: “Mr Rodrigo García wants to denounce forcefully all forms of fundamentalism and rebel against an all-powerful God he has feared since childhood – that is not the God Christians proclaim […]
“Is it right to foul the faith of many believers, to attack them in their devotion to Christ? I do not think so.”
But García says his play is a reflection of everyday reality, depicting Jesus through shocking images of consumerism in modern society.
He was quoted in France’s La Dépêche newspaper as saying: “I find it healthy to see people take a stand and say they don’t like it, even if what I show is only a reflection of what is in front of our eyes every day but nobody chooses to see.”