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Published: 4 october 2012 18:30

Group of people stage protest against Italian play to be shown in Vilnius

Piketas prie Nacionalinio dramos teatro.
Irmanto Gelūno / 15min nuotr. / Piketas prie Nacionalinio dramos teatro.

A handful of young people staged an action outside the National Drama Theater on Thursday in protest of the intentions to show a play by an Italian director, which they believe features disgraceful treatment of Jesus Christ portrait.

Martynas Budraitis, the head of the theater administration, rejected the criticism, saying that Romeo Castellucci's "On the Concept of the Face, Regarding the Son of God" was not aimed at mocking sacred symbols, stressing that one cannot restrict artists' right to choose their means of self-expression.

On Thursday afternoon, up to 10 young people held banners portraying Christ's face, the Lithuanian national flag and a young family with an inscription: “There are things that cannot be vandalized for private or state money.”

One of the participants, Santa Kančyte, 22, said the protesters were against the use of sacred symbols for provocation.

Budraitis walked out to speak to the protesters, dismissing as untrue their statements that the play vandalized religious symbols. In his words, the protesters were succumbing to "blind and deaf hysteria."

The controversial play should go on stage this weekend as part of the theater festival Sirens, sponsored by the state. Earlier this week, the play triggered debates in parliament – MPs discussed a resolution which stated that the play scorned religious symbols, incited religious hatred and, therefore, should not be financed from the state budget.

The play features a fragment of Italian Renaissance painter Antonello da Messina's painting Salvator Mundi. In the play, the portrait of Crist overlooks relations between a father and a son. The elderly father is unable to hold faeces and taints his son's apartment.

Posters advertising the play came under criticism of the Catholic Church and the Orthodox Church.

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