An award-winning Indian playwright accused the Royal Court theatre of censorship after his play about contemporary Tibet was shelved, The Guardian reported on Sunday. Abhishek Majumdar claimed that Pah-la was withdrawn because of fears of negative Chinese reactions.
Pah-la shows the life in contemporary Tibet. Majumdar worked with Tibetans in India and the play draws on such personal stories. In a Facebook post, Majumdar shared a copy of the poster for the play that said it was due to run for a month from October 4 to November 4, 2017.
Majumdar said Pah-la was withdrawn as it may impact an ongoing arts programme in Beijing where Chinese writers are working with the Royal Court theatre and the British Council in China. He claimed that the British Council had “pressurised” the theatre to withdraw it.
Majumdar said that the Dalai Lama had told him to be ready to face resistance. “Now I know what that means,” he said. Majumdar told the Observer that he was now involved in “sensitive” discussions with the Royal Court.
The Royal Court, however, said it had had to postpone and then withdraw Pah-la for financial reasons. It added that the play will be staged in spring 2019. “The Royal Court always seeks to protect and not to silence any voice,” said the theatre. “In an international context, this can sometimes be more complex across communities. The Royal Court is committed to protecting free speech, sometimes within difficult situations.”
A British Council spokesperson said the Royal Court theatre’s programming team is responsible for their decisions about the plays they stage. “We are pleased this play can be staged in 2019: the playwright took part in previous writing workshops we supported in India,” the spokesperson told The Guardian.