Both deliberate and unwitting fomenters ofdiscord. Howard Romans in Britain Brenton and Tariq Ali are now attempting to keep open the issues behind the Rushdie affair with a new play. They discuss their intentions with Kristina Woolnough.

Howard Brenton and Tariq Ali. Rushdie is referred to directly is at neither oletom MC strangers 10 the very end of the play. when the controversy. have collaborated on a three actors (Nabil Shaban. Paul new play in response to what Bhattacharjee and Fiona Victory) Brenton calls ‘IhC Salméln RUSde read otit a roll-call of writers who crisis‘. Iranian .N'igltts has just have been persecuted across the opened at the Royal (‘ourt Theatre. . centuries. ‘We thought that we London and is to have a reading at should put in that salute for him. the 'l'raverse Theatre on 23 April. lle’s suffered a unique and terrible

It is several months since the form of literary criticismf said Ayatollah Khomeini offered a three Brenton. million pound reward to the person The Bandung File. the television who could kill Salman Rushdie. Just programme for which 'l'ariq Ali is a as the dust stirred up by The Satanic director and which is behind the l'erses seems to be settling. Brenton whole project. are to film the Royal

and All "TC leklntl it “P again (‘ourt production for screening on deliberately. Brenton feels this is (‘hmmcl FOUL The rehearsed

Vllitli I think “W l-‘V‘UCS W‘m‘t g“ i A reading scheduled for the Traverse MW)" 'l‘hCY.“ fC-‘lcr- his disgraceful is. hopes Brenton. the first ofmany. if everyone decides to shut up and let ‘We are trying to arrange other Salman Rushdie rot. lle‘sa British productions. 'l'here‘ll be one in citizen who‘s a brilliant writer who Amsterdam. Anyone who wants M writes from a very liberal point of do the play is wry wclmmC m.- "lC‘V- "WC Mfg“ hlm- ll‘” h“ 1‘ 'l’he'l‘raverse's involvement came disgrace. We can drive a coach and mm). Via '17“, Bandung Isl-1‘. The “("59 lhmugh lhc 5“ch“- Thcn original. perhaps overly ambitious. “1h” “CNS “in begin ‘0 be Planned idea was to stage several showings of “5 l‘CUPlC PM “W” minds ‘0 Whch Iranian .N'ights simultaneously with lh“ Crl-‘l‘ l“ i” “"“7‘ the one at the Royal (‘ourt all around

Iranian Nights was originally the Britain.

MC” "licrstwhilc Simicsl Kim Dambaek. Associate revolutionary 'l‘ariq Ali. Who was Director of the Traverse. hobes that himself raised as a Muslim. ‘I wanted to write a play which would clear the air and debate the issues. I approached Penny (‘herns ofthe Royal (‘ourt to ask whether she would be available to direct. She was enthusiastic.’ said Ali.

Ali needed a co-author. and Howard Brenton. infamous for Mary \N'hiteliouse's prosecution of his play The Romans In Britain. was contacted. ‘l was in Paris at the titnc. trying to have a holiday. I came straight back. I felt such a great sense of relief working on the play was something positive I could do. You do feel so impotent when something like this happens to a brother writer.‘

By all accounts. the collaboration worked well and the play was written in tiy e w eeks. ‘( )ur minds were greatly concentrated by the situation that Rushdie finds himself in and by the crisis around what's happened to him. \Ve've written an hour-long play with music. It can only be a pin-prick. ()ur attitude is the opposite of being grandiose about this. It’s just a contribution that we felt w e could make in a simple and

the play will ease tensions: ‘We'd like to hold a debate here and perhaps create a forum where community leaders. having seen the play. could talk about how relationships could be improved. This is exactly the sort of thing we want to be doing. It's wonder ful that theatre cart have its finger so much on the pulse. lf through the debate at the theatre. we can find some solutions. that would be great'. When asked about the potential danger to himself. to All. to the actors and to the Royal (‘ourt. Brenton grew impatient: ‘I do not see why any extra security precautions should be taken. People have become rather confused by television images where you see a book burning or people shouting in ‘l‘eheran or frightening-looking fanatics. We're trying to clear the air. \Ve're not afraid. \Ve feel that if you can't ptit on a play like this in Britain. then we really are in trouble. The play is not offensive to religion. But I'm not afraid of controversy . l’ree speech is a very noisy thing.

1 . ' ; w ~ - " 3‘ MPH-um “Humming W“: said Howard Brenton (left). Penny Chems and Tariq Ali MFNW‘ h " L r}. "'53" “’l f H I - ~ - offended by Rushdie s book. I hey i l"llU. . .. -. - .k. .n . . . g h‘“ l‘“? l‘“"““‘- ll“ 1”“ Asian community. have every right to protest and to | 1h“ mulmm“ “l the PM)“ “ghts W“ I” “W‘Ck l""‘l‘lmcnli'mm~ and Iranian .VIg/tls tises some very demonstrate. But they do not have l UL [\‘Q-1(‘Iti”l.ll.ilmg} “.1 m [lull ‘0 "1""! that Nam” “"er " traditional material: 'We try and the right to way e placards around the insclvcs specific guidelines. wry “Ch and h "m rcprcwmcd h}. cclchmlc lhc richm“ 0'. [\hmic “mm: ..Km Rmhdicao. Brentonex ilained: ‘\\"d‘ 'b‘ ' ' s1 - ‘~ - - s- ' -' - - I ' i 1 i l t. .H LS. kl] .L‘mul) 1h“ lf'n‘nu‘“_h”“Rf? mm‘mt.‘ culture by taking the Ara/nan ( ,H "m Llumi mm H “NW” “mu”? “m “I “an “N “‘C‘md Knit/its stories said .-\li. The writers IIIt' rehearsed rear/ill}: uflranran [‘{UI \|¢,\iillt.ll C [[50 ()f ‘() ()t- (ll-\() in\crt \()”]C rclulc w.I-ll [(lkl'l)lll(‘(' (I! III“ .l.,.‘l‘.('r-‘(' us it ie sarguments. . ortm eet (U - ~ s - ' -. . . . . - - - . w lllt ls! li 'i in Wh it w it 1. ' mt “hm anmmm" dud m *l‘CC'lls'éillV to the issues raised by the Ihealre. Izihnhargh on Sunday e; iL‘ 'eLi. ' ‘ea 'ic’is .. . . . . '. . ' . --.- ' - '- i ' ‘~ rill-11KB!“ [\yr'nun- Blslnnn , h v.) }k L llLOUl'dgL lllL .Asldll Ulllllllllllll} Sailing!“ Rllqldlc “HA”. lhcrC ill-L. 14,),‘1/(112/"n. [[15 “In n [n [In pub/[i t c . e . L ( ( ' I s - x n I u i - ~ \ o . - - - i . " '. , Ihrcncmnu {he “VB “f .mth; rs. ,md ml) :hLm'sf In“ ful mt} h‘l“ ". . three characters - the ( aliplt, his undue/sets an 1 I00 (U). I! I.\ In In A \ g I 1 I n - I \ . , . _ ) _ '. . ..‘ . “Him: h". the hmnmu of mung,” i‘ {:m k 1" l'h‘.‘ dI‘m lll'l‘} R”de slave-girl Scheheie/ade (w ho fol/mu (I by an opt it (list assum. a! ( < 3 -- I \ s . - .I p l\'l"llllllC'll ln 'l modest w'iv w . my. 00 m I k) “(m ( (in {Nth thL ironically has to tell stories to save H'Illt‘Il IImvanI Brenton H III/N . I - ' v ' L (“film ""9"" “is'i‘m‘l h'm- C “m” her own life) and the Persian poet present. The Royal ( 'uurtprrnlur‘lirm l a go at that. to encourage those forces in the ()mm- Khm-VLmL 'l‘hc only time that runs unliIJ‘I/lpril. J

6 The list 2] April 4 May 198‘)