TERRENCE McNally’s Corpus Christi is in hot water again – this time in Greece where an Athens theatre has been forced to end performances of the play that portrays Jesus Christ as gay.
The play sparked violent protests by neo-Nazi groups and ultra-Orthodox Christians.
The play’s translator and its director said in a joint statement:
Corpus Christi performances are ending. We are sorry that people were beaten up, abused and scorned through no intent of our own… we tried to perform the play for three weeks but it was not possible.
Originally staged in New York in 1998, the play depicts Jesus and the Apostles as gay men living in modern-day Texas.
When the show opened in Athens last month, scores of ultra-Orthodox protesters gathered outside the theatre, demanding the “blasphemous” play’s cancellation.
Several members of the neo-Nazi party Golden Dawn also turned up, blocking access to the theatre and turning spectators away.
Witnesses said that neo-Nazi supporters beat up a reporter who tried to film protesters tearing down posters outside the theatre while riot police stood by.
The play’s Albanian-born director Laertis Vassileiou later said he had received death threats.
Such displays of violence that took place outside the theatre doors did not occur anywhere else in the world where Corpus Christi was performed, except by fanatical Muslims.
Muslims consider Jesus a messenger of God and revere his mother Mary.
The two men who staged the play added that attempts to ban it had failed in court and that they had received invitations to perform in festivals in Bosnia and Colombia.
Once on the fringe of Greek society, Golden Dawn has been flexing its muscles after picking up over 400,000 votes in recent elections on the back of immigration and crime fears.
It has sent squads of black-clad members to intimidate foreign peddlers at open-air markets, has publicly intimidated political opponents, and is believed to be behind an escalating campaign of migrant beatings around the country.
The Church of Greece has officially condemned these acts of violence but a number of senior churchmen are believed to support the group’s agenda.
Hat tip: Bill Murray