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Lebanon: Play banned after director refuses to make changes

1 December 2015

lucien bourjeily
The General Security’s Censorship Bureau on 16 November 2015 banned playwright Lucien Bourjeily’s ‘Beirut Syndrome’ from being performed after he refused to alter sentences in the work, reported The Arabic Network for Human Rights Information.

Bourjeily submitted his play for approval on 23 October 2015. After review, the bureau called for the removal of two sentences that undermined the censorship office, but the playwright refused to do so on the grounds that each sentence in his play has its special role and purpose. In response, the bureau banned the entirety of the play.

In its initial review, the bureau had also put an age restriction on the play allowing only those 18 years of age or older to attend the play to which Bourjeily had no issue.

“This ban is outright repression,” Boureilly told L’Orient-Le Jour. “I have no objection if the play is prohibited for those under 18 years of age, but I do not accept changing the characters in my work at the request of anyone.”

Further, the playwright said that he criticises several other state security services in the play and doesn’t understand why this particular office “rebelled” against the work.

‘Beirut Syndrome’ is a play wherein a corrupt politician is put on trial by a public citizen. Bourjeily spent a year and a half writing the work. He told L’Orient-Le Jour on 27 November 2015 that he would put on a reading of the play that evening at an undisclosed location for “friends, activists and journalists”.

This is not Bourjeily’s first incident with censorship. In August 2013 his play about the Censorship Bureau, entitled ‘Will it Pass or Not?’, was also banned, and for a brief period in 2014 Bourjeily was not able to travel to a theatre festival in the UK as his passport was confiscated by General Security due to his writing of the play.


Photos from Lucien Bourjeily’s Facebook page


Sources:

» L’Orient-Le Jour – 27 November 2015:
A new play by Lucien Bourjeily prohibited by SG

» The Arabic Network for Human Rights Information – 23 November 2015:
Lebanon: ANHRI deplores the censorship conditions for licensing ‘Beirut Syndrome’ play


Related information:

» Artsfreedom.org – 30 October 2014:
Lebanon: Anti-censorship play receives surprise approval

» Artsfreedom.org – 26 May 2014:
Lebanon: Theatre director claims ‘victory’ after receiving passport back

» Artsfreedom.org – 15 April 2014:
Lebanon: Increase in cultural censorship

» Artsfreedom.org – 14 February 2014:
Lebanon: Theatre play banned in ‘climate of fear’

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