A day before the controversial play, Agnes of God, was set to open in Hyderabad, the premiere was cancelled Thursday following protests from the Christian community.
“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,” said Telangana MLA Elvis Stephenson.
The play’s director, Vinay Varma, however, said he was not aware of the cancellation. “I have no idea and as of now, we are going ahead with the play,” he said. The premiere was being held by a Hyderabad theatre group called Sutradhar.
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Stephenson said the director would be officially informed on Friday morning. “We have been interacting with the CM’s office. After a few days of discussions, it was decided today that the committee will first view the play before we can decide whether it should be allowed to be viewed by the public,” he said.
The protest against the play was led by the Catholic Association of Hyderabad and the archdiocese. “We had objections to the advertisements, which use symbols from the Christian faith in an incorrect way,” said Father Amal, spokesperson of the archdiocese, adding that some dialogues from the play are also objectionable.
Joseph Dias of the Catholic Secular Forum (CSF), who has been at the forefront of the protests in Mumbai, said a similar committee should be set up to watch the play in Mumbai. “Or else, it will send the wrong signal that the state government is communal,” he said.