SHOCKER! British Left Wing Theater Group takes a bare naked look at Islam

DV8′s Artistic Director Lloyd Newson’s latest work at the National Theater deals with freedom of speech, censorship and Islam. Can We Talk About This? uses real-life interviews and archive footage to examine influences on multicultural policies, press freedom and artistic censorship. 

HERE on the politically correct South Bank, is powerful criticism of the establishment which has wetly appeased hostile cultural forces. 

This polemic against misguided Western liberalism is an admission, 27 years late – here in this cockpit of leftwing London’s arts! – that the Bradford schoolmaster Ray Honeyford was right when he criticised multiculturalism in 1985. The production by the DV8 company lasts 80 minutes and presents a series of historical events, starting with the late Mr Honeyford who was sacked for speaking his mind.

It progresses via the Rushdie saga, the Danish cartoons controversy and others. En route we are shown modern British Muslims screaming that their religion will take over the country, will enter every house, will ‘conquer Rome and the world’, not least the state of Israel.

Performers raise the issues of freedom of speech, censorship and Islam, all based on interviews, thoughts and speeches of individuals such as Maryam Namazie, the director of ‘One Law for All,’ which fights for the rights of women, and against Sharia courts and Sharia law being introduced in Britain.

The Arts Desk  “Do you feel morally superior to the Taliban? Well, do you?” And we’re off, with another of director/choreographer Lloyd Newson’s interrogations of a taboo subject. 

 Can We Talk About This? is a relentless barrage of the horrors brought about by secular liberalism’s acceptance of multiculturalism. Multiculturalism, it is carefully spelt out, is not an acceptance of tolerance, but an acceptance of intolerance, an acceptance of apartheid, of communities that force certain sections of their (and, they hope) the wider population to live not by the rules of that wider society, but by the rules the smaller groups enforce. Our tolerance, this evening reinforces, our multicultural laissez-faire-ism, enshrines inequality.

Thus the cost of tolerance is intolerance: if we accept that freedom of speech permits certain groups to preach hatred of gays, of Jews, of “other”, we slide invisibly into accepting that, at the same time, we may not ourselves preach hatred of fundamentalism.

 Newson has a point, and his eleven-strong troupe present scene after scene describing the fall-out of the Salman Rushdie fatwa, of the Geert Wilders debacle, of forced marriage, of honour killings, of the Danish Muhammad cartoons and more. Some of the visual and physical effects are extraordinarily powerful – Christina May, as Ayaan Hirsi Ali, describes her situation as the scriptwriter of the film Submission, for which Dutch filmmaker Theo van Gogh was murdered, all the while scoring her body through with a great black line – defacing herself. Or the company stand, one by one dropping photographs of all of those murdered in the name of “respect” for Islam. Or the remarkable Joy Constantine as MP Ann Cryer, is manipulated magically across the stage as she gently tells of her campaign to bring the crimes of forced marriages and honour killings to national attention.

Dance Bloggers  Martin Amis was cool but his audience was livid. Speaking at London’s Institute of Contemporary Arts, in London, the writer told his left leaning audience something they didn’t want to hear.

If liberals could not make a stand against a global wave of religious fervour that was ‘irrationalist, misogynist, homophobic, inquisitional, totalitarian, imperialist and genocidal”, that attitude represented a moral failure.

In Amis’s view, and I think Newson’s, this timid response is a statement of principle. Many liberals, Amis said in a later interview, did not feel free to feel morally superior to anyone except Americans and Israelis.

As Newson himself writes in his program note to his new production: “Because of our desire to be tolerant and perhaps because of post colonial guilt and a fear of being labelled racist of Islamophobic, I feel there is a liberal blind spot”.

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