Search

Islington theatre to shine light on Hitler’s controversial Olympics

10:57 12 July 2012

Cornelius Macarthy in 1936 at Sadler

Cornelius Macarthy in 1936 at Sadler's Wells. Photo by Sheila Burnett

Archant

The story of the 1936 Berlin Games hits the stage next week

»This summer has seen London overflowing with theatre and arts projects that are loosely tied to the Olympics, via that all-too-nebulous concept, the Cultural Olympiad.

From the immersive outdoor experience that was Babel in Caledonian Park, Holloway, to Wah! Wah! Girls in the West End’s Peacock Theatre, a very British Bollywood musical, the productions have been as varied as they are plentiful.

But one thing they all seem to share, aside from a vague celebration of the cultural-diversity of London, is having barely anything to do with the Games. Cultural Olympiad they may be, but they are decidedly not about the Olympics.

So when the writer of 1936, former long-jumper and Olympic coach Tom McNab, claims it’s the only play in town that’s actually about the Olympics, he might not be far off.

Opening at Sadler’s Wells on Wednesday, it tells the story of one of the most controversial sporting events in history – the 1936 Berlin Olympics.

Mr McNab, 78, said: “The play is about the attempt by the American Amateur Athletic Union to boycott the 1936 Games. It’s about the issues that arose the moment the Nazis got into power, when they were simply handed the Olympics, which had already been given to Germany.”

By 1936, Jews had already been cast out of society, banned from joining sports clubs, let alone competing. Anyone feeling aggrieved at the prospect of walking to work come the end of this month might reflect that things won’t be so bad.

Mr McNab continued: “The Olympics are about human rights, equal opportunities and human values – fairness, justice and honesty.

“But despite these being trampled on everyday by the Nazis with their treatment of the Jews, the sporting nations and governing bodies did pretty much nothing about it.

“They were run by people with no principles.”

As well as focusing on the ultimately futile boycott attempts, 1936 highlights the stories of the athletes involved, particularly Jesse Owens, whose four golds were so symbolic after Hitler’s attempts to make the Games about Aryan superiority.

Mr McNab, 78, is well placed to dramatise the notorious tournament. He has achieved great success not only in sport – coaching triple jumper Fred Alsop to fourth in the 1964 Games – but also in literature, with his first novel, Flanagan’s Run, a bestseller in the 1980s.

But perhaps his most cherished success was working on the classic Oscar-winning sports film Chariots of Fire, as its technical director. He added: “It was a great experience and it taught me a great deal about film, drama and telling stories.”

n 1936 is at the Lilian Baylis Studio, Rosebery Avenue, EC1, from Wednesday, July 18, until August 5. A discussion chaired by Tom McNab follows each performance. Tickets from £25, call 0844 412 2300 or visit www.sadlerswells.com.

0 comments

Latest Islington News Stories

09:00
Peter and Alan Arthy at the Mears Group HQ in Caledonian Road

“I was 14 and the career officer came round. He said to me ‘right you’ve got three options; making women’s handbags, a dustman or a painter and decorator’.”

Fabric nightclub in Charterhouse Street. Picture: Polly Hancock

Two 18-year-old boys who died after taking ecstasy at Fabric had bought the class A drug from strangers inside the Farringdon club, where substance abuse is rife and security lax, an explosive report today alleges.

Fri, 16:11
Emergency services and displaced commuters outside Caledonian Road and Barnsbury station (Picture: Sam Gelder)

A commuter has described his horror at seeing a boy attacked on a bus in Caledonian Road, in an incident believed to be linked to a stabbing on a nearby Overground platform.

Fri, 15:12
John Ball, pictured on January 31, on the balcony of the second floor flat in which he died

Firefighters called to a housing block three times could not have saved the alcoholic found dead in his soot-covered flat the next day, a coroner has ruled.

Emergency services and displaced commuters outside Caledonian Road and Barnsbury station (Picture: Sam Gelder)

Two boys are believed to have been stabbed in a group fight at Caledonian Road and Barnsbury station this afternoon, leaving one seriously injured while another fled onto a passing bus.

Thu, 13:19
Angela Sinclair 92 years old @  Save Whittington Hospital March

A stalwart campaigner for social justice who continued going on protest marches into her 90s has died.

Thu, 13:02
Masjid Al-risaalah mosque and Islington Islamic Centre. (Picture: Google Maps).

A man in his late 40s was stabbed outside a Holloway mosque in broad daylight on Tuesday afternoon.

Thu, 06:00
GCSE results are out tomorrow

Teenagers across the country face one of the most nerve-racking days of their young lives today with the publication of GCSE results.

Education and Training

cover

Read the
Education and Training
e-edition today

Read Now

Newsletter Sign Up

Most read news

Competitions

You could win £15,000 to spend on either their mortgage or a deposit towards the home of their dreams

Wouldn’t it be lovely to have a period of time when you simply don’t have to worry about finding the money each month to pay your mortgage? When you don’t have to put money aside from your monthly income, or worry about having to afford other essential outgoings?

Which book character do you share cleaning habits with?

Whether you have more in common with put-upon Cinderella, emotionally turbulent Jane Eyre, or easily distracted Mole, you’re sure to appreciate that one lucky winner will receive four sessions of free cleaning. Enter our quiz for your chance to win. All runners up will get £10 off their first clean when making a repeat booking.

Digital Edition

cover

Enjoy the
Islington Gazette
e-edition today

Subscribe

Education and Training

cover

Read the
Education and Training
e-edition today

Read Now