Don’t mention Nazis or Jews
A playwright has cancelled a play set during the Second World War after claiming he was asked to remove references to Nazis, Jews and the invasion of Poland over fears of “offending” the audience.Rod Tinson, whose Hallowe’en play was due to be staged at Pendennis Castle in Falmouth, Cornwall, has accused English Heritage of trying to create a “Disneyfied” version of history by insisting on changes to his script.
The play featured scenes from different periods in the Tudor castle’s history, including its role during the Second World War as a key coastal defence against German invasion of Britain.
Mr Tinson said English Heritage asked him to tone down parts of the script, including a young Jewish character expressing fears about his family in occupied Poland, over concerns that visitors would be “offended” by the material.
The playwright cancelled the play after refusing to make the requested changes. He said he could not understand why his script would be deemed offensive. “They said it was inappropriate for an English Heritage audience. What version of history are they trying to illustrate at this place?” Mr Tinson added.
“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 reason the buildings are there was to fight off any attempts by the Germans to invade.”
The play was due to be performed as part of the castle’s adults-only ''ghost tours’’ programme, which runs for four nights over the weekend.
Mr Tinson’s script made frequent reference to the venue’s historic Second World War gun batteries.
Charlie Fear, the events manager at Pendennis Castle, said the programme would go ahead with a script from a different writer.
“It’s unfortunate that we’ve had to pull Mr Tinson’s play and we will reimburse him for his time and effort,” she said. “This was our first time working with Mr Tinson and we were unable to agree on the right approach for our event.” An email to Mr Tinson said to be from Ms Fear, read: “I need to be very clear here, and in order to make this work, we have to remove any references to sex (including buggary (sic)) and any swear words, including 'bloody’ I’m afraid. I would also like the references to Poland, Jews and Nazis removed too please.
“Our English Heritage visitors would be offended by the content as it still stands and it is essential that I ensure that this does not happen.
“I understand that you want to bring your characters to life, but we have to tone down the language. I hope you understand this and the responsibility I have to ensure that I meet our visitors’ expectations.”
Pendennis Castle was built between 1540 and 1545 to protect the Fal 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 improved during the reign of Elizabeth I and again before the Civil War, when it was subjected to a five-month siege by Parliamentarian forces.