Trent's Powerhouse plays host to censorship storm

June 9, 1995

Nottingham Trent University has been accused of censorship after its decision to cancel a performance of the controversial play Geek at the end of last month.

The play, which was due to show at the university's Powerhouse theatre on May 28, was part of the Barclays New Stages Season and had funding from Nottingham City Council. The show had previously run at the Institute of Contemporary Arts in London without any problems and is scheduled at the Royal Court in London.

George Thompson, pro vice-chancellor of the university, pulled the play following a campaign in the local Nottingham Evening Post. It aroused local opposition because of a scene in which a woman produces union jack bunting from her vagina. In an article entitled "Fury on union flag sex show", the Post linked this moment with the failure of Nottingham City Council to fly the union flag on VE day. A phone-in organised by the newspaper solicited 1,000 calls, 84 per cent in favour of the show being banned.

Lecturers in both drama and English from Nottingham Trent and surrounding universities have written to Ray Cowell, vice chancellor, to protest at the cancellation.

Mick Wallis, lecturer in drama at Loughborough University, said: "It is appalling to consider that a British university might have responded to populist tub-thumping by a newspaper renowned for its political campaigning in such a knee-jerk fashion."

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