Play on cartoon dispute

COPENHAGEN: A Danish play about the “clash of civilisations” set against the backdrop of the global Mohammed cartoons crisis is under way and will open in Copenhagen in September, the playwright told AFP.

“What interests us is to shed light on the controversy surrounding these cartoons,” Flemming Jensen said, describing the play as humourous and “amusing”.

“Humour is the only weapon to deal with such a serious problem,” he said.

Twelve drawings of the Prophet Mohammed, considered by many fervent Muslims to be blasphemous, have sparked violent protests and scores of deaths in Muslim countries since

they were first published in Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten last September.

Jensen said the play would not show the cartoons. “But we are not going to censor ourselves and we are not afraid,” said the playwright, who last year staged a musical about the US-led war in Iraq entitled Let’s Kick Ass!

The new play is entitled King of Hearts and is an adaptation of a play about the clash of civilisations written by British author Alistair Beaton, who is, given Muslims’ anger over the caricatures, “a little nervous about the idea of working on this play,” according to Jensen.

“He wants to see every word I write,” the Dane said.

Jensen said the cartoons controversy had inspired him to undertake the project but “the clash of civilisations is always there. It did not arise because of the Mohammed cartoons”. As a result, the piece is “about the conflicts that arise in a society like ours, which has a large group of Muslims but which has historically been Christian,” he said.

“And when such a crazy thing like this happens — the cartoons — we have to take them into account.”

He insisted that the production would not take sides in the row, and stressed that “the theatre’s mission is to show the different facets of a problem without necessarily taking a stand.”

The play, which will be performed in Danish, will open on September 21 at the Noerrebro Theatre in the Danish capital.

Jensen’s 2005 production Let’s Kick Ass! — named after a phrase uttered by US President George W Bush and which was a takeoff on Beaton’s play Follow the Leader about Bush and British Prime Minister Tony Blair — was a huge success.