Where: Lilian Baylis Studio, Sadler’s Wells, Rosebery Avenue, London EC1R 4TN
What is it?
1936 is former Olympic Coach Tom McNab’s portrait of the 1936 Berlin Olympics.
World-class athletics coach and award-winning writer Tom McNab depicts the lead-up to one of the most controversial sporting events in history. 1936 conjures up the conversations and conflicts leading up to the Berlin Olympics, as seen through the eyes of American journalist William Shirer. Juxtaposing scenes between Hitler and Goebbels with the discussions taking place in the International Olympic Committee and the American Amateur Athletics Union, the play reveals the political and cultural tensions surrounding the event and highlights the stories of the athletes involved, with Jesse Owens at the centre.
The Berlin Games were the first time that the Olympics were used as a powerful political tool for propaganda. In spite of Hitler’s treatment of the Jews and Jewish athletes, and lengthy debates amongst influential figures surrounding the Games, no boycott took place. Could the cancellation of the Games have changed world history? 1936 is a pertinent reminder of the political dimension of the Olympics as the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games begin.
Every performance of the play is followed by short film excerpts from Leni Riefenstahl’s Olympia (1936) and a discussion chaired by Tom McNab with a panel drawn from cast members, historians and ex-Olympians such as Peter Radford and Geoff Capes.
Tom McNab’s credits in the arts include the best-selling novel Flanagan’s Run, several radio plays and technical direction of the Oscar-winning Chariots of Fire. His sporting achievements have included three Olympics, coaching the English Rugby team to a World Cup Silver in 1992 and winning the British Coach of the Year title in 1992 and 1994.