By Tenzin Dharpo
Playwright Abhishek Majumdar/FB personal
DHARAMSHALA, Feb. 5: A prominent London based theatre house has been accused of censorship by award winning Indian playwright after his play on exile Tibetan community was shelved amid fears of backlash from China.
Playwright Abhishek Majumdar who penned the play on contemporary Tibetans in exile titled “Pah-lah”, accused the Royal Court Theatre of censorship and described the incident as a yet another “roadblock”.
The winner of ‘Metro Plus Playwriting Award’ in a Facebook post lamented that, “the British Council China pressurised the theatre to withdraw it (the play) from opening,” in fear of revoking an arts programme in Beijing where Chinese writers are working with the Royal Court theatre and the British Council in China. Majumdar said that the theatre management “simply backtracked on its commitment citing pressures from above.”
“Like your (Tibetans) struggle, the play will continue to strive and I assure you I will leave no stone unturned to find it a home. After all, this play has stories of many people who have risked their life to share documents, pictures and biographies to make it happen. And His Holiness the Dalai Lama himself has answered many of its questions personally. He also told me, write it, but be prepared for a lot of resistance. Now I know what it means,” the defiant Indian Playwright wrote.
The play took over three years in the making and involved research and first-hand accounts of Tibetans in exile. Lhakpa Tsering, Founder of ‘Tibet Theatre’ and an actor who worked with Majumdar in Dharamshala said that he was half expectant of Beijing’s intrusion when he was accompanying the playwright and assisting the project a year ago. Tsering told Phayul that China has always elbowed its way into establishing what they felt is the right way, especially when it is about Tibet.
“But its nothing new, China has has blurred the boundaries when it comes to maintaining their narrative, so art is no exception. Sadly, it is just another incident incident of China being China and the international community remaining silent with regards to their interest,” said Lhakpa.
The Royal Court Theatre has said that the play was shelved due to financial reasons adding that the play “can be” played next year. “We are pleased this play can be staged in 2019: the playwright took part in previous writing workshops we supported in India,” a spokesperson from the theatre house told The Guardian.