Last week, the award-winning Indian playwright Abhishek Majumdar posted a disconcerting message on Facebook, regarding his play Pah-la.
My dear Tibetan Friends, in Tibet and in exile, who have contributed extensively to the writing of Pah-la, I regret to inform you that the play has hit a roadblock again.
It was supposed to open on 4th October 2017, at the Royal Court Theatre, in London, with its poster printed and rehearsals fixed, when the British Council China pressurised the theatre to withdraw it from opening because of a program in China that they were running together.
In statement to Ben Quinn of the Observer, the Royal Court has confirmed that it will stage the play in 2019. I was quoted in the piece, speaking on behalf English PEN:
Robert Sharp, a spokesman for English PEN, said the organisation had been in discussions with the Royal Court over the issue and was pleased that the play would go ahead eventually.
He added: “It is a pity that there was a delay in confirming with the playwright that Pah-la will be staged at the Royal Court, but I think what this controversy reveals is how China sows anxiety among artists and arts organisations. We all need to be vigilant to resist this chill on artistic freedom.”