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Last Updated: Wednesday, 22 December, 2004, 11:27 GMT
Second theatre drops play plans
Police at Birmingham Rep
Three police officers were hurt in struggles at the theatre
The boss of a Birmingham theatre company which was considering staging a play cancelled after violent demonstrations has dropped his plans.

Neal Foster, of the Birmingham Stage Company, criticised the decision to cancel the play - Behzti - saying it had been made by "cowards".

But now he says he is pulling out of plans to stage it following a request by the author, Gurpreet Kaur Bhatti.

He said that Ms Bhatti feared for her safety after receiving threats.

'Increased threats'

Birmingham Repertory Theatre dropped Behzti, which depicts murder and sex abuse in a temple, on safety grounds after hundreds of Sikh protesters clashed with police outside the theatre on Saturday night.

Three police officers were hurt in the demonstrations and 800 theatre-goers, including children, had to be evacuated.

Mr Foster, whose theatre company is based at the city's Old Rep theatre, said earlier this week he would consider staging the production if it was not reinstated.

Sikh protesters
Sikh leaders wanted the play set in a community centre

But on Wednesday he said he had received a call from the play's author requesting him not to continue with his plans because of the "increased threats" to her safety.

"The plan I came up with was to invite theatres across the country to read the play and discuss it afterwards, to have a debate so there was more understanding about the whole issue," he said.

"I was proceeding with these plans until last night, when I received a request from the author."

Mr Foster added that he had also received several threatening phone calls.

Ms Bhatti is reportedly in hiding after receiving death threats because of the play's subject matter, which Sikhs claim demeans their religion.

The Royal Court theatre in London says it may now stage the play.


BBC NEWS: VIDEO AND AUDIO
The events leading up to the play's closure



SEE ALSO:
Protest play may move to London
22 Dec 04 |  London


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