In 2013, Lebanon banned a Lebanese play, titled “Will It Pass or Not?” from public performance.
As may be evident from its name, the play was itself a criticism of the surveillance and censorship of media in Lebanon, which is carried out by the country’s General Security’s Censorship Bureau.
“Will It Pass or Not?” written and directed by Lucien Bourjeily, is a story that mainly revolves around three characters who, due to the nature of their work, share the problem of having to deal with censorship.
One of them is a filmmaker who submits a movie about immigration to be reviewed by the General Security, which ultimately rejects the movie due to it being critical of political and religious figures.
However, the man turns out to “know people” in the state, and he uses nepotism to successfully turn that rejection into approval.
Similarly, the second character, who is a Lebanese-French actress, tries to get her piece about women in eastern societies into Lebanese theaters but fails to get it past the censorship wall for containing nudity.
Unlike the backed filmmaker, however, the actress does not have close people who work in the Lebanese government, and so her play stays banned.
The third character in Bourjeily’s story is a journalist who is known to constantly criticize the General Security in her writings, and who happens to be married to the very employee who’s responsible for approving/rejecting movies, plays, etc…
To put an end to her biting articles, her husband threatens to divorce her if she continues publishing them.
Expectedly, the general security did not like the way the satirical “Will It Pass or Not?” portrayed its Censorship Bureau, and banned it, even though it had already been performed on 5 stages in Lebanon.
Ironically, the censorship of the play only brought loads of criticism toward the Lebanese General Security, which caused the latter to confiscate Lucien Bourjeily’s Lebanese passport in May 2014.
However, the Lebanese public opinion pressured the bureau to return the passport 2 days later. Nonetheless, the censorship was not lifted off the theatrical piece.
Notably, in the same year, Lucien Bourjeily was nominated for the Index on Censorship’s Freedom of Expression Award in London for his quarrel with the authorities.
“Will It Pass or Not?” is only one of many plays that the General Security has prevented from reaching an audience for targeting satire and criticism at Lebanese politicians and authority figures.