Friday 9 December 2016

Wartime play 'can't mention Nazis'

Published 27/10/2011 | 11:36

A playwright claims bosses at Pendennis Castle in Falmouth asked him to remove references to the Nazis from a story about the Second World War
A playwright claims bosses at Pendennis Castle in Falmouth asked him to remove references to the Nazis from a story about the Second World War

A playwright has cancelled a play set partly during the Second World War, claiming the quango which commissioned it asked him to remove references to Nazis, Jews and the invasion of Poland for fear of "offending" the audience.

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Rod Tinson hit out at English Heritage for trying to create a "Disneyfied" version of history by insisting on changes to his play, due to be performed at a castle which formed part of Britain's wartime coastal defence network against German invasion.

The Halloween play was originally approved to be performed as part of "ghost tours" at Pendennis Castle in Falmouth, Cornwall, over four nights for an "adults only" audience, with scenes showcasing difference periods in the Tudor castle's history, including its Second World War gun batteries.

The scenes in question included a young Polish Jew, who arrived in Britain as a refugee, voicing fears about what would happen to his relatives in occupied Europe. But Tinson said that after initially being told by management that they were happy with the play, he was later asked to tone down the parts dealing with the war because its content would "offend" visitors. He refused and pulled the plug on the performance.

He said: "They said it was inappropriate for an English Heritage audience. What version of history are they trying to illustrate at this place?

"I cannot see why it would be deemed offensive. It was intended for adults, many of whom remember the war or know people who were involved in it. I cannot understand it. I refused to change it because it would have changed the whole storyline."

The castle was constructed between 1540 and 1545 opposite St Mawes Castle to protect the Fal river estuary from attack by France and Spain. It is the Cornish end of a chain of coastal artillery fortresses built by Henry VIII.

It was later updated during the reign of Elizabeth I and again before the Civil War, where as a Royalist stronghold it was subjected to a five-month siege by Parliamentarian forces. English Heritage's own website says the castle "saw significant action during the Second World War".

In a statement, Charlie Fear, events manager at Pendennis Castle, said: "It's unfortunate that we've had to pull Mr Tinson's play and we will reimburse him for his time and effort.

"This was our first time working with Mr Tinson and we were unable to agree on the right approach for our event. The tours will still go ahead but the script is by a different writer, one with whom we've worked in the past."

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