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Dutch Director Again Under Fire for Play with Anti-semitic Tone

January 11, 1990
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

Johan Doesburg, the stage director whose production of a purportedly anti-Semitic play was halted by demonstrators in 1987, has had another production canceled because of an offensive remark about Jews.

This time his offense took place in program notes he wrote for a production of “Witch Hunt,” a play about the persecution of people who are “different.”

Doesburg wrote that the play was about “Jewish noise,” explaining he meant “the noise Jews make.”

The manager of the small theater in The Hague, where the 45-minute play was to be performed, asked him to delete the words.

Doesburg refused, insisting they were essential, whereupon the manager called off the performance.

Doesburg, a graduate of the Royal Theatrical Academy in Amsterdam, chose for his graduate thesis to produce a controversial work of the late West German playwright Rainer Werner Fassbinder called “Garbage, the City and Death.”

The play was banned in West Germany on grounds of anti-Semitism. One of its chief characters, a slumlord, is identified only as the “rich Jew.”

The production became a major controversy in Holland. Doesburg could find no theater in Amsterdam willing to mount a production of the play, so he went to Rotterdam instead.

The play closed before the curtain was raised because the stage was occupied by angry protesters, not all of them Jewish.

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