Biblical theatre show causes controversy

Published Thursday, 09 January 2014
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An "irreverent" comedy theatre show about the Bible is causing controversy in Newtownabbey, with a DUP councillor calling for it to be cancelled before it has even started over offence to Christians.

The Reduced Shakespeare Company is due to kick off its latest UK tour by presenting The Bible: The Complete Word of God (abridged) at the Theatre at the Mill on 29 and 30 January.

The venue is run by the local council, leading to the issue being raised at a meeting earlier this week.

The Newtownabbey Times reports that DUP Alderman Billy Ball called for the play to be pulled from the theatre by the Artistic Board.

"It should never have been accepted in the first place," he told the paper.

"The Artistic Board have offended a lot of people in Newtownabbey and further afield by letting this play go ahead."

For Christians, the Bible is the infallible word of God and it’s not something to be made fun of. These people are treating something sacred with irreverence and disrespect.

Billy Ball, DUP

But the Alliance Party's John Blair, who praised the theatre for its facilities and professional production, has countered with his own concerns of "censorship".

He told UTV: "Programmes are planned by an Artistic Board which was appointed and approved by the full council and with which the council has a positive and open working relationship.

"Late, ad hoc, or intermittent political interference in the work of that Board could easily be perceived as political censorship and would not be conducive to good theatre management."

Alderman Blair added: "Like other mainstream arts venues, Theatre at the Mill has to offer a wide range of attractions and productions which may not suit all of the people all of the time but are, in general terms, exactly what the paying public expects from such a facility."

The show at the centre of the row is billed as "an affectionate, irreverent roller coaster ride from fig leaves to final judgement".

According to the promoters, it tackles the great theological questions like "Did Adam and Eve have navels? Did Moses really look like Charlton Heston?"

Maybe Councillor Ball should come and see our show before denouncing it as unholy. But he'd better be quick as all his comments have done is increase ticket sales.

Davey Naylor, producer

They say: "Whether you are Catholic or Protestant, Muslim or Jew, Atheist or Jedi, you will be tickled by the RSC's romp through old time religion."

The show's producer Davey Naylor told UTV the production has toured extensively around the world over the past 20 years and been very successful.

"The company has even performed the show at the Jerusalem Festival in Israel without objection," he said.

"Hundreds and hundreds of clergy members of all denominations have seen the show since its premiere in 1995 and have both endorsed it and recommended it to their congregations."

© UTV News
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17 Comments
Raymond Stewart in Newtownabbey wrote (96 days ago):
I am a ratepayer and a Christian. This play is an insult to many in Newtownabbey and clearly the Liberal elite have succeeded on this which is to be deplored. God is not mocked !
Observer in Online wrote (96 days ago):
Religion is Satan - all evil on earth is caused by foolish men who need to worship fictitious "gods" instead of living in peace & harmony with one another al over the globe. Wake up and break free from your brain washing, believe in science, and learn to think for yourselves!
Frosty in Here wrote (96 days ago):
@Sam1690 in Ballysillan wrote (2 days ago): "This is the problem with Northern Ireland. People are too quick to be offended. If you are offended by this production DON'T GO. If you are offended by an Orange Parade stay away for 10 mins. I have no desire to hear or read Gaelic is play or watch GAA so I don't. IRA parades offend me so I stay away." I don't balme you on the IRA parades Sam, but what does or would offend you about hearing or being able to read Gaelic, or any other language for that matter, or watch or play some GAA games? Aren't you being a tad hasty? You might enjoy it if you understood it. Is that not the sign of a bigot? Someone who just doesn't want to know? And the sign of supidity is making the same mistakes over and over again expecting a different result each time. As for the story, all publicity is good publicity, even God knows that.
Eileen in Magherafelt wrote (96 days ago):
This play is poking fun and making a mockery of The Bible. God's Word itself declares its truthfulness. John 17:17 "Thy Word is Truth". To those who think The Bible is just a fairytale and a myth, God's Word states Psalm 14:1 "The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God". To those who think that believing Christians are just 'nutters' God's Word states Psalm 111:10 "The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom: a good understanding have all they that do his commandments: His praise endureth for ever". To those who think it is funny to mock God's Word and laugh at it, God will have the last laugh. Proverbs 1:26 I also will laugh at your calamity; I will mock when your fear cometh". There is a day coming when every knee shall bow and every tongue shall confess that he is Lord, both believers and unbelievers.
Alpha in United Kingdom wrote (96 days ago):
I'm sure this production company wouldn't be quick to make fun off Muslim's or prophet Muhammad . Christians are easy targets,
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