Play Canceled in Ireland for ‘Blasphemy’

Unfortunately, the Muslim world is not the only place that violates free speech and punishes or censors “blasphemy.” Some parts of the predominately Christian world do as well. A city council in Ireland has canceled a “blasphemous” play before it could ever happen.

A play in Northern Ireland has been cancelled after Christians claimed it was blasphemous.

The Bible: The Complete Word of God (Abridged) was due to be staged in the Theatre at the Mill in Newtownabbey on the northern outskirts of Belfast later this month.

In a move dismaying freedom of expression campaigners, a Democratic Unionist-led council decided to call it off amid strong opposition from religious conservatives.

Ulster Unionist Mayor of Newtownabbey Borough Council Fraser Agnew said: “As the guardians of all that is right in society we have got to take a stand somewhere and that is what happened in this instance.”

The guardians of all that is right in society? Seriously, could you be more grandiose in your delusions and more totalitarian in your actions?

Update: The council has now reversed its decision.

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  • robnyny

    Northern Ireland is not Ireland.

  • robnyny

    To clarify: Northern Ireland is part of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. Ireland is Eire, the Republic of Ireland. Two different countries.

  • Brain Hertz

    robnyny beat me to it… Northern Ireland is not in Ireland.

    On a positive note, I saw a follow up story saying that the decision had been reversed. Don’t have a link immediately to hand, unfortunately.

  • dingojack

    “Seriously, could you be more grandiose in your delusions and more totalitarian in your actions?”

    Sadly Ed, considering the location, yes, yes they can.

    :( Dingo

  • kieran
  • robnyny

    “Ulster Unionst” generally means “protestant,” often one of the Scottish churches, such as Presbyterian, which I think has Calvinist roots. As opposed to Irish Catholicism, (as opposed to other Catholicisms) which has goddesses at the root.) That’s why Mary Mother of God the Virgin Mother of Jesus Sacred Heart of Mary is a surrogate for Maeve/Mab (available in various spellings), but basically a goddess, who shows up everywhere from Shakespeare to Berlioz.

  • Michael Heath

    Decision reversed:

    From that article:

    DUP members had branded the pay blasphemous and an attack on Christianity . . .

    So? Talk about missing the point.


    Given the worldwide publicity the Newtownabbey council decision has garnered, several dates on the UK tour have now sold out.

  • dingojack

    robnyny – Really? I don’t remember Mary, mother of god, mother of Jesus, sacred heart of thingybob turning up as a character in any Shakespearean plays. Got a reference?

    😉 Dingo

  • richardelguru

    “Northern Ireland is not in Ireland.”

    Though there are those who would like it to be…

  • dingojack

    (Hint: the only time she’s mentioned is in Act 2, Scene 4 of Henry VIII) [Not considered universally to canonical]


  • richardelguru

    ‘….the play is now having difficulty with it’s ticket site due to demand…’

    “Barbra Streisand to the white courtesy phone. Call for Barbra Streisand”

  • keithb

    I wonder what they would do with “The Book of Mormon” play by the South Park guys.

  • richardelguru

    Mab (if not Mary) appears in R&J.

    “Oh Then I see Queen Mab hath been with you. She is the fairies midwife…” if I remember from the school production of the play in which I was the hero (Mercutio, dum dum)

    Also memorable for Juliet stumbling and nearly tripping in the balcony scene and Romeo ad libbing “What twit through yonder window breaks”!!

  • sh3baproject


    your first post just described me :O

  • dingojack

    Richard – and here was I thinking the hero was ROMEO? 😀


  • richardelguru


    Nope Romeo is really a bit of a wet weed for most of the play

    (also note that it’s Ned Alleyn who plays Mercutio in Shakespeare in Love)

  • Paul Durrant

    I’ve seen it on one of its previous outings. It’s really funny – if you get a chance, go along and see it. They also do “The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (abridged)”.

    Northern Ireland is one of the most ‘religious’ parts of the UK. Luckily, I live in the least religious part.

  • dingojack

    Richard – “I take thee at thy word:

    Call me but love, and I’ll be new baptized;”

    :) Dingo

  • Moggie


    DUP not happy

    Also, water still wet.

    The DUP pretty much exists to be unhappy.

  • richardelguru

    Hey Dingo, I’m the Shakespearean show-off round here. :-)

  • dingojack

    Paul – I’ve seen it (twice), which I only mention to segue into Shakespeare’s own foray into literary criticism:

    THESEUS: [reads] ‘A tedious brief scene of young Pyramus

    And his love Thisbe; very tragical mirth.’

    Merry and tragical! tedious and brief!

    That is, hot ice and wondrous strange snow.

    How shall we find the concord of this discord?

    PHILOSTRATE A play there is, my lord, some ten words long,

    Which is as brief as I have known a play;

    But by ten words, my lord, it is too long,

    Which makes it tedious; for in all the play

    There is not one word apt, one player fitted:

    And tragical, my noble lord, it is;

    For Pyramus therein doth kill himself.

    Which, when I saw rehearsed, I must confess,

    Made mine eyes water; but more merry tears

    The passion of loud laughter never shed.

    OK, I’ll stop derailing now. Carry on!

    :) Dingo

  • richardelguru

    Dingo, I’ve often wondered, does “they have a plentiful lack of wit, together with most weak hams” from Hamlet count as Shakespearean theatrical criticism?

  • dingojack

    I wonder if that’s where ‘ham actor’ comes from?


  • abb3w

    And so, the play is now selling out elsewhere.

    Things haven’t changed so much since “Banned in Boston” in the days of H.L. Mencken.

  • JustaTech

    “Always look on the bright side of life…” *whistles*

    Some things never change.

  • Mister Grumbles

    I recently performed this show at my local community theater in red, rural-ish Ohio. Most of the patrons enjoyed the way it presented a lighthearted take on the bible, but the jokes that seemed to really bother them were the ones that poked fun at conservatives (the play has a decidedly liberal slant.) As Moses, I did a Letterman style “Top Ten Rejected Commandments” that included “The Christian Right is neither Christian, nor right” and a joke about letting the poor fend for themselves being instead a part of the Republican agenda. Those fell flat nearly every night.

    Slapstick humor and foreskin/penis jokes, good. Mockery of Fox News and wingnut celebrities, bad.

  • blf

    They also do “The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (abridged)”.

    Oh! If these are the guys who do The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (abridged), which I’ve seen and which is hilarious. then this play is also probably extremely good.

  • had3

    Does this make them now the guardians of somethings that are once in a while right but usually wrong for society?