In ‘Games in the Backyard,’ Art and Privacy Collide
Crossposted from Haaretz
A legal issue to be arbitrated in the Tel Aviv District Court this May raises a philosophical-artistic question that exceeds both the narrow boundaries of law books and the broader limits of the stage. Y., the victim of a gang rape on Kibbutz Shomrat in 1988 when she was 14, is suing playwright Edna Mazya, author of the play “Games in the Backyard,” with the claim that the work violates her legal right to privacy. Mazya’s play, which deals with the gang rape of a teenage girl in an unspecified community, was written in 1993 and mounted since at the Haifa Theater and dozens of theaters around the world. For the past three years, it has been performed again at the Cameri Theater in Tel Aviv.
This specific case is the focus of a legal battle, and a thorny one at that because — aside from the clash between an individual’s right to own her life story and an artist’s right to freedom of expression — the matter of rape is also at issue. In this case there are precedents for protecting a victim’s privacy, as evidenced in the release of only part of the recent court decision to convict former President Moshe Katsav of rape in order to shield the victims.