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Czech ultra-right disrupts theater performance, director says it reminds him of the rise of Fascism in the 20th century

29.5.2018 11:15
Roughly 30 members of the
Roughly 30 members of the "Decent People" ("Slušní lidé") movement (in the blue t-shirts) are captured here after coming onstage to disrupt a performance of the play "Our Violence and Your Violence" performed on 26 May 2018 as part of the Theater World Festival in Brno, Czech Republic. (PHOTO: ČTK)

The Czech News Agency reports that some 30 members of the self-described "Decent People" ("Slušní lidé") movement disrupted Saturday's performance of a play called "Our Violence and Your Violence" in the city of Brno, Czech Republic. Shortly after the performance began the disruptors took over the stage, forming a human chain to prevent the actors from continuing.

Other audience members disapproved of the disruption and chanted "Decent People Go Home!". The situation eventually had to be addressed by an anti-conflict team from the police.

Despite other attempts to close the show, the disrupters eventually left and the performance was completed. The play is controversial and the disruption had been anticipated.  

The final scene of the play involves an actor wearing a crown of thorns coming down from a cross made out of oil barrels and, in a semi-naked state, proceeding to enact the rape of a Muslim woman. The scene has prompted disagreement and outrage from members of the Catholic Church, politicians and others. 

The production has been called blasphemous because of its ending. Members of the "Decent People" movement called the play "deviant"./p>

Zdeněk Pernica, the head of the movement, said that "We got onstage after about 10 minutes because we wanted to deal with it, we wanted to see what it was about. Starting at the 10 minute mark it was just a mess, perversion, so we got onstage."

Pernica is a three-time kickboxing champion of the Czech Republic who owns a security agency. The Czech Interior Ministry has called his movement "extremist".

Miroslav Mareš, an expert on extremism and a political scientist, absolutely disagrees with that assessment, stating that while the "Decent People" movement is part of the radical right, it is not anchored in any particular ideology. He would not characterize the movement as extremist yet.

The political scientist says the movement has influence in the online space and strong publicity. However, actual support for the movement will not be demonstrated until the upcoming local elections, in which it plans to field candidates.

Director:  Fascism is on the rise, police procedure was dilatory 

The director of Brno's National Theater venue, Martin Glaser, was much harsher in his criticism. He said Saturday's incident at the theater reminded him of a scene from the rise of Fascism during the 20th century. 

In Glaser's view the people he called the "Brno Nazis" disrupted the performance because they wanted to take justice into their own hands. He said he considers such trends dangerous.

Glaser also criticized the approach taken by police, who only entered the theater after repeated requests. Police spokesperson Pave Šváb said that officers were prepared to intervene and had been stationed near the theater for such an eventuality.

The police said they never received any information about behavior that could be considered violent at the theater. The case of the disruption of the staging of "Our Violence and Your Violence" will eventually end up before a misdemeanor commission after the Brno Police hand the case over to them this week.

Mayor Petr Vokřál (ANO) called Saturday's incident a "sad" attempt to score points with voters in the runup to the local elections this autumn. The author of the controversial play is Croatian director Oliver Frljič, a reportedly respected European director whose productions frequently spark broad public debate about awkward questions or directly cause scandals.

lav, ČTK, translated by Gwendolyn Albert
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