'Satanic Verses' rotten in Denmark, Copenhagen theatre cancels Salman Rushdie play

After six months of deliberations, Danish national theatre decides to shelve project to adapt Rushdie's controversial work on stage

Theatre goers in Denmark will not be able to see the dramatised version of Salman Rushdie’s "Satanic Verses.”
Playwright Hassan Preisler who was adapting the controversial book for the stage said the Royal Theatre in Copenhagen backed out because it was "simply afraid.”

The plan to mount the play was abandoned after six months of deliberations.

However Morten Kirkskov, the director of the Royal Theatre denied that they had not cancelled the project out of fear.

“Fear played no role in our decision. It never crossed our mind,” Kirkskov was quoted as saying by the Copenhagen based newsoutlet 'Politiken'.

Kirkskov, a well known writer, actor and theatre director has also admitted that the Royal Theatre had been in touch with Rushdie’s literary agent Andrew Wylie to explore the possibilities of dramatising the book. The play was to be staged in 2018, the 30th anniversary of publishing the novel.

He however said “checking for rights , before you stage a play is routine.” The theatre dropped Rushdie’s book in favour of other novels which were easy to adapt on stage, Kirkskov said.

Preisler, who is disappointed by decision is said to be looking at other theatres in Denmark, which is willing to mount Rushdie's fourth novel published in 1988.

Several Danish academics and researchers were also disappointed by the decision of the national theatre to back out of the project, Politiken reported.

As soon as 'Satanic Verses' was published, Ayatollah Khomeini, the supreme religious leader of Iran issued a fatwa calling on all Muslims to kill Rushdie and others who were associated with the publication of the 'blasphemous' book.

Rushdie went into hiding after the Iranian leader issued the fatwa. Rushdie is now seen at literary and public events.

Two years ago, a senior Iranian cleric had said the religious edict was 'as fresh as ever' and even if Rushdie repents, it will have no effect on the 'historic fatwa'