Polish protest over 'pornographic' play leads to arrests

AP News
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Posted: Nov 22, 2015 12:15 PM

WARSAW, Poland (AP) — Authorities have arrested 12 people who tried to block the entrance to a theater performance in Poland they deemed pornographic.

The case highlights the cultural conflict that is already brewing between secular Polish society and a new conservative pro-Catholic government that took power last Monday.

Scuffles broke out late Saturday in Wroclaw when members of a Catholic organization tried to stop theater-goers from seeing "Death and the Maiden." The Polski Theater in Wroclaw says on its website that the play explores the relationship between torturer and victim and is based on the "Princess Dramas: Death and the Maiden I-V" by the Nobel Prize-winning Austrian writer Elfriede Jelinek.

That is a different work from the better known "Death and the Maiden" by Chilean writer Ariel Dorfman, which was made into a movie starring Sigourney Weaver and Ben Kingsley.

The protesters in Poland objected to the presence on the stage of porn stars and sexually explicit scenes.

The government's new culture minister, Piotr Glinski, called for the show to be canceled before its premiere on Saturday, noting the theater is sponsored by the state budget.

Glinski's opponents say his attempt to stop the performance amounts to a violation of freedom of speech.

Theater director Krzysztof Mieszkowski said he plans to file an official motion in parliament calling on Glinksi to be removed from his post. It is unlikely to succeed since the ruling Law and Justice party has a majority in the parliament.

Mieszkowski also said that protesters threw eggs and tomatoes at his mother's home and called on the play's critics to leave her alone.