Agnes of God: Play faces opposition from Christian groups in Hyderabad

The Hyderabad Archbishop earlier met the Chief Minister and implored him to stop the staging of the play in the city
Agnes of God: Play faces opposition from Christian groups in Hyderabad
Agnes of God: Play faces opposition from Christian groups in Hyderabad
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The controversy surrounding the play 'Agnes of God,' continued on Friday morning following protests from the Christian community, even as the play was set to premiere in Hyderabad in the evening.  

Reports surfaced that suggested that the play had been cancelled a day after Hyderabad Archbishop Rev. Thumma Bala met Chief Minister K. Chandrasekhar Rao on Wednesday and implored him to stop the staging of the play in Hyderabad.

However, the organizers claim that they have received no notice to stop the play from premiering at Lamakaan, a cultural centre in the city.

A representation submitted to the chief minister and the police commissioner, stated that, “The religious sentiments of the Catholics/Christians have been gravely hurt by a highly objectionable play...There is no control over the content of the play, which can be changed with every performances or location. The publicity material of Agnes of God is also highly objectionable.”  

On Thursday Telangana MLA Elvis Stephenson told The Indian Express “Following intervention from the chief minister’s office, a five-member committee has been set up which will watch the play tomorrow and decide whether it is objectionable… This will include members of the faith, the home secretary and a few others.” 

However, speaking to The News Minute on Friday, the organizers claim otherwise. "We are going to go ahead with the play as we have not received any such instructions. In fact, the police commissioner himself gave us a clean chit yesterday," says Rita Ghosh, one of the organizers of the play.

The premiere of the play is being held by a Hyderabad theatre group called Sutradhar and it is directed by Vinay Varma. It revolves around the story of a nun who gives birth to a child, who is found with the umbilical cord. To hide the truth, the nun and the mother superior claim the birth to be a miracle, just like that of Jesus Christ.

Many Christian organizations have been protesting against the screening of the play and have been trying to shut it down.

On Monday, the BM Birla Science Centre, which runs the Bhaskara Auditorium in Hyderabad, cancelled Varma’s play due to pressure from the Catholic Secular Forum in Mumbai led by Joe Dias.

However, the production house approached Lamakaan since, who agreed to stage the play.

"We have also not received any official notice to stop the play. The issue is between the organizers and the religious group. We are just providing them the stage," Ashhar Farhan, one of the founders of Lamakaan told TNM.

Farhan also added that they would have no choice but to stop the screening, if they receive an official notice. "We are being cautious about it," he said.

The Catholic Bishops Conference of India (CBCI) had earlier shot off a letter to Home Minister Rajnath Singh and Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, who also holds the Information and Broadcasting portfolio, seeking a ban on the play in Mumbai where it was staged on October 4.

However, after doubts over whether it would be staged in Mumbai, the show opened to a packed house at the National Centre for Performing Arts (NCPA) in the city.

The Hyderabad group is not related to the group that screened the play in Mumbai.

"We are keeping our fingers crossed and hope that things will go smoothly," Rita Ghosh from Sutradhar adds, while saying they will try their best to go ahead with the Hyderabad premiere.

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