Edinburgh-based Theatre Objektiv to stage a vibrant, evocative full-length drama about the controversial sinking of the SS Arandora Star, July 2nd 1940, in which some 700 “enemy aliens”, many of them Scottish-Italians, lost their lives while being forcibly transported to Canada by the British Government .
International significance and controversy
Arandora Star dramatises a subject of national and international significance, of historical and political importance and of contemporary cultural relevance; exploring our European inheritance at a time of great European – as well as National – debate.
The sinking of the SS Arandora Star remains controversial to this day and many government records have not yet been released although this tragic event traumatised the Italian community, the reverberations of which are still felt today
This ensemble production with eight actors will cast dramatic light on how and why this tragedy occurred involving the deaths of settled Italian immigrants (including well-known anti-Fascists); acknowledged anti-Nazis (Austrian and German) who had escaped to Britain; and Jewish refugees fleeing Hitler; all of whom were designated “enemy aliens” and who drowned alongside captured German merchant sailors (POWs), British soldiers and Navy personnel as the result of a German U-Boat torpedo fired at an overcrowded, ill-prepared, un-escorted and unmarked ship (the Arandora Star had been denied a ‘Red Cross’ by HM Government) off the coast of neutral Ireland .
Playwright Raymond Raszkowski Ross says “This is a significant story for Scottish theatre and Scottish audiences to embrace in terms of who we are and where we came from and in terms of what can happen when communities and/or diversity are challenged (over 4,000 Italian men from age 16 to 70 were interned without any trial or tribunal in 1940). Reflecting not only the contribution of the Italian community to Scottish life for over a century but also evoking the centrality of Italian culture to Scotland and to a European sensibility, a significant aim of Arandora Star is to share this sense of multi-cultural inheritance and community with audiences in Scotland to reflect different cultural perspectives at a time of shifting uncertainty.”
Director Donald Smith says: “The play, which is peppered with comedy, irony and satire as well as with moments of intimacy, love and close affection, is about an artistic integrity which is moral as well as aesthetic. By shining a little light on a murky subject, of importance not only to the Italian community in Scotland, but of relevance to us all, we intend it to be genuinely thought-provoking: was what happened to that ship a war crime? A crime against humanity? We leave such questions to resonate with the audience and we give no answers but many may also (still) wonder why the British Government has never yet apologised for its role in this tragedy.”
The ship on which we sail symbolises the truth of all war: most victims are innocent civilian non-combatants.
“Collar the lot!” Churchill had ordered when Mussolini declared war on June 10th 1940; and collar them they did. The Italian community in Scotland (Britain) was wrong-footed by Il Duce and they would pay a heavy price.
Theatre Objektiv, Edinburgh, Scotland – their site can seen here
Theatre Objektiv is a Scottish company based in Edinburgh which draws on Scottish and European themes and styles to produce scripted and explorative/experimental theatre which combines visual and physical performance with words, music, movement and storytelling.
It begins with the Word. It ends with the Word. It is a theatre of voyages: a visual theatre emerging from shadows, a kinetic theatre throwing shapes. A theatre of irony, of musing and of laughter.
It visits hidden history in dark places, speaking English and Scots, sometimes a little Polish, French or Yiddish. And it sings.
It is ghetto theatre: a theatre on edge and scratching at walls, windows and doors. Shadows in our ghetto include: Kantor, Grotowski, Artaud, Aleichem, MacDiarmid, Mickiewicz, Burns, Slowacki, Wispianski, Lorca, Mac-Gill-Eain, Singer, Jung, Henderson and Zimmerman.
Theatre Objektiv is addicted to zal, to duende and to conyach. That is, it is a theatre of the senses and of transformation.
We are ane tinkler theatre whilk bids ye weill frae Auld Reekie til Nowe Miasto!
Illustration by Sandy Moffat.
Scottish Storytelling Centre 43-45 High Street Edinburgh EH1 1SR
Tue 22 – Sat 26 May 2018 7.30pm & 2pm (Sat 26 only)
1hr 40 (with interval) £12 (£10) (£9.50 SCS) 14+
0131 556 9579 www.scottishstorytellingcentre.co.uk