Perhaps it is not so much as the theater play itself that is the issue as it has already been performed in other countries. But the contentious theater sign promoting the play and the timing of the showing that's creating such a stir in the Ukranian capital
A controversial theater sign that says " A Holocaust Cabaret" announcing a new play to be staged in a Kiev theater has triggered quite a storm of criticism from the local Jewish community and social media users for being insensitive.
The new play is based on Canadian Jonathan Garfinkel's " The Trials of John Demjanjuk: A Holocaust Cabaret". The play focuses on the story of John Demjanjuk, the bloodthirsty Nazi extermination camp Treblinka guard, who was brought to trial in Jerusalem in 1987.
The play caused negative buzz even before its first night of staging after Ukraine's chief rabbi brought the provocative "Holocaust Cabaret" sign to the public's attention.
The timing also became suspect as the sign appeared on the theater's facade on April 24 which also happens to be Holocaust and Heroism Remembrance Day, which commemorates the close to six million Jews killed in the Holocaust.
Ukraine's Chief Rabbi took to Facebook to air his pained sentiments. He said: "This horrible thing ( I can't find any other words) was installed in Kiev yesterday, on the Holocaust Remembrance Day, in the city where Babi Yar is located ( a site of massacres carried out by Nazis), right in front of the central synagogue. And they are selling tickets to a Friday show. I don't know who needs this provocation, but I can say that we, the Jewish community, will do everything to get rid of this provocation immediately."
The rabbi's post was quickly shared by almost 500 times in less than 10 hours since its first posting, drawing more than 150 comments from angry users. One user called the move as "ignorant". Another commented that they should have used the whole title of the play. The post said the idea is really important, especially on that day. Yet another user said the PR or marketing managers of the play might be lacking morals or ethics or have some gaps in education. The person said the people from the play might not have done it from malice.
As a victory for those who were morally outraged, the sign apparently has been removed after the punblic uproar and the reports the controversy generated in the media. The removal was ordered by Ukranian authorities said a follow up post from the rabbi.
" The Trials of John Demjanjuk: A Holocaust Cabaret" will premiere on April 28 at Kiev's Bel' etage concert hall. The play has already been staged in Germany, Canada and the US.
It's refreshing to see a transgressive new art piece that really pushes the boundaries of what is "right" or "acceptable" in a traditionally conservative country such as the Ukraine. We can only hope that the younger generations continue to push the limits along these lines into places their old, feeble parents would find "offensive", "disgusting" and "antisemitic".