By Andrea Shalal
UEDEM, Germany (Reuters) – The German air force worked closely with a Berlin theater on its production of “Terror”, a play about a pilot prosecuted for shooting down a hijacked airliner to prevent it from hitting a crowded stadium.
“The play is serious. It could happen tomorrow,” said Air Force Colonel Hermann Hornung at an air operations center in Uedem near the Dutch border which monitors the 10,000 flights that pass over Germany daily.
Written by best-selling author Ferdinand von Schirach, the innovative play asks audiences to deliver their verdicts on the guilt of the fighter pilot at the end of each show. Nearly 60 percent of the 130,000 people who have seen different stagings worldwide have found the airman “not guilty”.
Millions of German viewers will have the chance to vote in October when the ARD network airs a TV version of the play, which Swiss and Austrian television networks will air at the same time.
Berlin’s Deutsches Theater will host a discussion with Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble after a performance on Sept. 25 – at a time when Germany is rethinking its security laws after two attacks linked to the Islamic State militant group.
The play premieres in Japan this weekend, and has been staged in Israel, Venezuela and throughout Europe.
Hornung said the air force had wanted to make sure the play was realistic.
“We accompanied the production process to make sure that they didn’t portray the situation inaccurately,” he told reporters during a visit to the center by Defence Minister Ursula von der Leyen.
The center was set up after the attacks on Sept. 11, 2001 in the United States. It often dispatches fighter jets to check on aircraft that have lost contact with air traffic controllers, and has had to intervene in several cases of suspected “renegade” planes, officials said.
Germany’s constitutional court in 2006 overturned a law passed in 2003 that authorized the shooting down of hijacked civilian airliners, but the decision has since been revised to allow it.
(Reporting by Andrea Shalal; editing by Erik Kirschbaum and Andrew Roche)