Censored: 5 plays and novels banned around the globe

Censorship of the arts has a long history, from ancient Greece to present-day Thailand. Here is a list of five plays and novels banned, for a variety of reasons, in regions across the globe.

3. Catastrophe

In the 1980s, Samuel Beckett’s plays, which include well-known works like “Waiting for Godot,” were banned in communist Czechoslovakia. But the regime’s censorship didn’t stop Mr. Beckett from becoming a hero of the opposition in the eastern European country.  In 1982 he dedicated a one-act play, “Catastrophe,” to Vaclav Havel, a playwright and future president of Czechoslovakia and the Czech Republic who was then serving a 4.5-year sentence in prison.

The International Association for the Defence of Artists, which was organizing a night of solidarity for Mr. Havel to draw attention to the prosecution of artists under communist regimes,  asked Beckett to write the play. It was originally written in French and performed at the Avignon Festival in 1982.

Catastrophe was Beckett’s most overtly political play, according to his biographer James Knowlson.  In it, a director and his assistant subject a mute character to their commands, “preparing” him for the stage. The dehumanized character’s only act of resistance is to raise his head at the end of the play, facing his oppressors. 

Once Havel was released from prison he wrote a response to Beckett’s “Catastrophe” in the form of a play.

3 of 5

Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

If you’re looking for bran muffin journalism, you can subscribe to the Monitor for $15. You’ll get the Monitor Weekly magazine, the Monitor Daily email, and unlimited access to CSMonitor.com.

You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.