Madrid City Hall's culture councillor, Celia Mayer, announced on Saturday that she will sack carnaval programme managers in the Spanish capital "immediately" after they hired a theatre company for an infant puppet show in the Tetuán area of the city that descended into representations of violence, horror and debauchery "inappropriate for an infant audience", she said: "we are absolutely outraged".
Police arrested the two puppet masters from the Títeres Desde Abajo (Puppets From Below) theatre group on Friday evening after parents complained. Madrid City Hall culture authorities, and Ms. Mayer in person, went to the duty investigative court in Madrid late last night to file a complaint for breach of contract.
The play was titled "The Witch and Don Cristóbal: everyone gets their comeuppance", and on their Facebook page on February 3, Títeres Desde Abajo described the play as a new creation that would use puppets "to talk about the things we feel are urgent".
"Don Cristóbal will try to squash a totally unconventional witch but her nature will lead her to love her freedom above all and to not let herself be trampled on by anyone."
Reported versions of the actual outcome differed slightly, as regards the age of the infants and the litany of violence and crime represented in the play, but the list included drunken revelry, encouraging the children to squat in unoccupied buildings, displaying a pro-ETA terrorism banner, raping a witch, murdering a pregnant woman, having her attempt a home-made abortion with a knife and hanging a judge.
The puppet masters are facing glorification of terrorism charges, although there was some confusion over the exact message, in Basque, that was used during the play. Rather than the well-known slogan "Gora ETA" (long live ETA), it appears to have been "Gora Alka ETA", a nonsensical play on words.
Spanish newspapers ABC and La Razón put the story on their front pages on Saturday.
"My political responsibility right now is to take the decisions we have taken resoundingly and quickly", said Ms. Mayer: "the immediate stoppage of the play, secondly the complaint we have filed at the court, and thirdly the dismissal of those who have direct political responsibility for the hiring, the programme managers".
Madrid City Hall issued a statement on Friday evening saying the infants show had not been previewed by the art director in charge of programming 15 events for the carnaval in Tetuán.
"During the workshop", said the statement: "the artists hired carried out offensive actions, completely out of place in any context and totally disrespectful with the values of coexistence, respect and diversity proposed by Madrid City Hall.
"The local police arrested those responsible and called in the national police, following normal procedure in these cases."
Títeres Desde Abajo was not responding to calls to its published contact phone numbers on Saturday.