Germany – Munich theater cancels piece after antisemitism criticism

Munich – The Metropoltheater in Munich has taken the play “Birds” off the schedule after criticism from Jewish students. “Theater director Jochen Schölch has currently suspended the performances of “Birds”,” said the cultural department of the state capital on Thursday. “He and his team are very sorry that people feel hurt and belittled by the text of the play.” The culture department welcomed this decision.

The Jewish Student Union Germany and the Association of Jewish Students in Bavaria had announced that they consider the Munich performance of Wajdi Mouawad‘s play to be antisemitic. It makes “Holocaust relativization and Israel -related antisemitism socially acceptable,” they wrote in an open letter. They received support in their criticism from Bavaria’s antisemitism officer, Ludwig Spaenle, who considered the allegations to be serious and said: “A renowned theater must exercise the necessary sensitivity with such a production.”

The director Schölch initially rejected the attacks and stated that “Vögel” was one of the most frequently performed contemporary plays. “It’s seen everywhere as a play of the moment and referred to as the modern day ‘Nathan the Wise,'” he said. The quotes given by the student associations were taken out of context. The former Munich Mayor Christian Ude (SPD) had also defended the production. He is chairman of the circle of friends of the theater.

According to the culture department, the theater has now agreed on a non-public exchange with the students who raised the criticism. “They accepted the criticism from the start, sought an exchange and want to deal with it in terms of content,” said the department about the theater team. “Since the allegations relate primarily to the original texts by Wajdi Mouawad, the publisher was immediately involved.”

According to the culture department, the metropolitan theater will receive “an institutional theater subsidy that was decided by the city council”. Nothing should change about that for the time being: “The demand for a cessation of funding was made before the necessary substantive discussion took place. For the culture department, analysis comes before evaluation.”

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