Read an Interview conducted with Jim Allen conducted in 1995 and a Obituary on World Socialist Web Site.
Sent in by Trevor Hoyle
Reviewing Jim Allen of Middleton, Greater ManchesterTHE first attempts to show Jim Allen's play Perdition in Britain and Ireland resulted in it being banned. It was first surpressed in London during 1987, after fierce protests from Zionists forced the Royal Court in London, England to pull the play 48 hours before it's preview. It has since been described as "the most controversial play of the 1980s" (1).
Allen, a longtime creative partner of the British film maker Ken Loach, wrote the award winning films Hidden Agenda, Raining Stones and Land and Freedom. Loach was also to have directed Perdition at the Royal Court. After Jim Allen died in June 1999, Loach said in his obituary in The Guardian (27th June 1999) that "One of the pleasures of his last days was its current successful revival at the Gate Theatre, Notting Hill". Loach summed up the story behind the play: it was how "some Zionists" in Hungary in 1944 had done a deal with the Nazi's:
"In which a certain number of Jews would be allowed to escape to Palestine in return for silence about the destination of those bound for the concentration camps".Loach also observed how previous attacks on Allen and the play:
"Were as nothing compared to the Zionist fury unleashed when the play was being rehearsed. To Jim's disgust, and to the shame of the Royal Court, the play was withdrawn. Crude charges of anti-Semitism were discounted by critics when the play was heard in public at the Edinburgh Festival".In a 1995 interview, immediately following the release of Land and Freedom, Barbara Slaughter and Vicky Short interviewed Allen who recounted the problems he had putting on the play. The full text of the interview can be seen on the World Socialist Web Site.
World Socialist Web Site: Could you tell us about the problems you had with Perdition, your play about Zionist collaboration with Hitler's Nazis? Perdition was a very bad experience. I got my bank statement the other day and my overdraft, the lowest it's been, is now £3,000 despite the fact that I've written about four films in six years. We were £20,000 out of pocket for the libel action and that's a killer. A publisher was involved and he paid a lot. But it's very time consuming. I've followed this for six years.Thus, we see the reason for the plays controversy: it shows how some of the leaders of the Zionist movement in occupied Europe collaborated with the Nazi's in the Final Solution of the Jewish people of Hungary. The play is based on an infamous libel trial in Israel during the 1950s, and centres on the head of the Zionist Rescue Committee, Rudolf Kasztner. He sued a pamphleteer for claiming that he help the Nazi's exterminate 500,000 of his own people after admitting to negotiating with the the SS war criminal Adolph Eichmann for the safe passage out of Hungary of just 2000 Jews - many of whom were Zionists from his home town in Hungary.
I got an apology from the Telegraph and £5,000, which didn't cover anything.
We never got it on the stage except a shortened version at the Edinburgh film festival, where it appeared for one night. The bloke who put it on said, "I've never ever known such pressure, I'm a nervous wreck. The phone never stopped ringing, from all over the world." One Zionist leader in London said to Ken Loach, "I've got six friends who are very powerful, and we'll stop it going out."
A big producer in the West End did agreed to stage it. Within 24 hours he phoned back and said to Ken, "I'm sorry, forget it, I've had phone calls telling me if I put Perdition on, I will never open again on Broadway. I'm sorry."
The campaign they orchestrated with the press was incredible. It was attacked in America. I was sent a 20,000 word article printed in the New Republic. I replied in 1,000 words to make sure I got it in. Three months later I got a letter back saying, "You will be given the same liberty as any other writer in our magazine" - 100 words or something, in our letter column.
Arising out of that came the libel action. For two years I think my earnings were about £10 a week, plus I was going through a bad time personally because of my wife's illness-phone calls, abuse. You've got no idea what it was like.
A group of us put it on for a week in London, in some secular society. We showed the shortened version. It was packed, mainly by Jewish people, because this was a chapter of their history they didn't know, like Land and Freedom for the Spanish people. I am not exaggerating, there were some people crying, old people, because of the facts that came out in the play about the Zionists doing everything they could to disorganise the Jews, in Hungary, etc. I said to Ken, "If ever I win the lottery the first thing I'll do is hire a theatre and put it on." Apart from that there is no chance.
When the play has been shown again in London, the controversy was reawakened. Elliot Levey, the Jewish actor who directed the new production, said: "It is not historically inaccurate". However, Zionists again attempted to apply maximum pressure to have the play stopped. In a letter to The Guardian (April 26th 1999), David Menton of the Union of Jewish Students suggested that the play was both "Holocaust revisionism" and therefore "one of the most vicious forms of anti-Semitism". He also cites the author David Cesarani as condemning the play for its "revisionism".
Neville Nagler, the director general of the Board of Deputies of British Jews claimed in a letter to The Guardian (April 26th 1999), that Perdition was a "travesty of reality" and "grossly distorts historical fact". But does it ? The main argument of the critics, is that Perdition should be banned because they claim that the basis of which the play is based is historically inaccurate, and therefore is "holocaust revisionism".
For more go to http://www.fantompowa.net/Flame/kasztner.htm