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Last Updated: Thursday, 24 November 2005, 17:45 GMT
Marlowe rewrite 'draws criticism'
Greg Hicks in Tamburlaine
The title role in Tamburlaine was played by actor Greg Hicks
Theatre producers have been criticised for rewriting parts of a 16th century stage play to avoid upsetting Muslims, it has been reported.

Christopher Marlowe's Tamburlaine the Great includes a reference to Muhammad being "not worthy to be worshipped" and a scene where the Koran is burnt.

But a production at the Barbican in London, now ended, altered these scenes over fears they might offend.

The decision has been attacked by Marlowe experts, said the Times.

Stage director Terry Hands, who directed a production of Tamburlaine for the RSC, told the newspaper: "I don't believe you should interfere with any classic for reasons of religious or political correctness."

And English professor Park Honan, author of Christopher Marlowe: Poet and Spy, said: "It is wrong to tamper with a play, wrong to shorten it and wrong to leave out the burning of the Koran."

But Simon Reade, artistic director of the Bristol Old Vic where the production initiated, told the same newspaper not changing the original text "would have unnecessarily raised the hackles of one of the world's great religions".

Violent protests

In a statement, the play's director David Farr said: "the choices I made in the adaptation were personal abut the focus I wanted to put on the main character and had nothing to do with modern politics."

The production closed at the Barbican Centre last week.

Tamburlaine is not the first production to come under fire for its treatment of religious sensibilities.

Last year a production of Behzti by British Sikh writer Gurpreet Kaur Bhatti - which featured a sexual assault in a Sikh temple - was cancelled by the Birmingham Repertory Theatre following violent protests.

And in recent months a National Theatre production of Howard Brenton's play Paul has offended some Christians with its suggestion that Jesus was not the son of God.

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