‘Smile’: a play about Indian soldiers at the Brighton Pavilion Hospital during the First World War

Three Indian soldiers recover at the iconic Brighton Pavilion hospital. Every detail is provided for but something isn’t quite right. The soldiers question why the plentiful food and high quality care is served in the shadow of guards and bars across windows. Will they be honoured as heroes as the British had led them to believe, or are they merely prisoners being readied again for war?

This podcast is one of five short plays produced in response to documents held at The National Archives relating to the experiences of people from South Asia at the time of the First World War. The series was created by five playwrights from the Tamasha Developing Artists (TDA) programme and funded by the Friends of The National Archives.

Written by: Melanie Pennant

Directed by: Anthony Simpson-Pike

Performed by: Peter Singh, Naveed Khan, Jag Sanghera and Jim Conway

Recorded, edited and sound designed by: Robbie MacInnes

Photo credits: Bettina Adela

With thanks to Iqbal Husain and Sara Griffiths at The National Archives, and Fin Kennedy and Mina Maisuria at Tamasha Theatre.

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‘The Radicalisation of Vir Singh’: a play about the challenges of serving as an Indian soldier in the First World War

Arjun sits restless and scared as he prepares to enter the battlefield for the first time. Inspired by compatriot Vir’s legends of mighty Sikh warriors, Arjun becomes resolute in his determination to bring honour to his family. But with false reports of cowardice emerging, what story will history remember?

This podcast is one of five short plays produced in response to documents held at The National Archives relating to the experiences of people from South Asia at the time of the First World War. The series was created by five playwrights from the Tamasha Developing Artists (TDA) programme and funded by the Friends of The National Archives.

Written by: Amman Paul Singh Brar

Directed by: Anthony Simpson-Pike

Performed by: Peter Singh, Naveed Khan and Sid Sagar

Recorded, edited and sound designed by: Robbie MacInnes

Photo credits: Bettina Adela

With thanks to Iqbal Husain and Sara Griffiths at The National Archives, and Fin Kennedy and Mina Maisuria at Tamasha Theatre.

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‘Cama’: a play about a female Indian revolutionary at the time of the First World War

In a trench in Marseille the loyalty of three Indian soldiers is tested when the legendary Madame Cama asks them to surrender for the good of the motherland. Will carrying on the fight really prove their loyalty to the crown? Or is the battle for Indian independence the real fight that should be had?

This podcast is one of five short plays produced in response to documents held at The National Archives relating to the experiences of people from South Asia at the time of the First World War. The series was created by five playwrights from the Tamasha Developing Artists (TDA) programme and funded by the Friends of The National Archives.

Written by: Sharmila Chauhan

Directed by: Anthony Simpson-Pike

Performed by: Peter Singh, Naveed Khan, Sid Sagar, Balvinder Sopal and Jim Conway

Recorded, edited and sound designed by: Robbie MacInnes

Photo credits: Bettina Adela

With thanks to Iqbal Husain and Sara Griffiths at The National Archives; and Fin Kennedy and Mina Maisuria at Tamasha Theatre.

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‘Corner of a Foreign Field’: a play about the burial of Indian Muslim troops at the time of the First World War

It is October 1914 and Maulana Sadr Ud-Din is battling with General Barrow, the Military Secretary to the India Office, over the appropriate burial grounds for Muslim soldiers. With Turkey entering the war on the side of the Central Powers much could rest on the decision that is made.

This podcast is one of five short plays produced in response to documents held at The National Archives relating to the experiences of people from South Asia at the time of the First World War. The series was created by five playwrights from the Tamasha Developing Artists (TDA) programme and funded by the Friends of The National Archives.

Written by: Hassan Abdulrazzak

Directed by: Anthony Simpson-Pike

Performed by: Naveed Khan, Jag Sanghera, Sid Sagar and Jim Conway

Recorded, edited and sound designed by: Robbie MacInnes

Photo credits: Bettina Adela

With thanks to Iqbal Husain and Sara Griffiths at The National Archives; and Fin Kennedy and Mina Maisuria at Tamasha Theatre.

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The Sexual Offences Act 1967. Part 2: Wolfenden’s silent women

On 27 July 2017, The National Archives held a day of talks to mark the 50th anniversary of the royal assent of the Sexual Offences Act 1967, which partially decriminalised male homosexuality in England and Wales.

In this recording, Caroline Derry looks at how the Wolfenden committee (whose 1957 report laid the ground work for the passing of the Sexual Offences Act) barely mentioned women and instead focussed almost exclusively on homosexual men.

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The Sexual Offences Act 1967. Part 1: The lives of men from 1953 to the 1967 Act

On 27 July 2017, The National Archives held a day of talks to mark the 50th anniversary of the royal assent of the Sexual Offences Act 1967, which partially decriminalised male homosexuality in England and Wales.

In this recording, Sammy Sturgess discusses the lives of gay men in London in the lead up to the 1967 Act: from legal rights and social spaces, to employment and living arrangements.

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Sexuality under scrutiny in 1930s Soho

In 1934, homosexual acts between men – in public and in private – were illegal in the UK. Police surveilled a number of social spaces across London suspected of permitting what the state then considered to be ‘immoral activity’ and in August conducted a raid on a venue in Soho called the Caravan Club. Possessions such as cosmetics and personal correspondence were confiscated from attendees and later offered as evidence in court.

Vicky Iglikowski, The National Archives’ Diverse History Records Specialist, discusses the content and context of a love letter found in the Caravan on that evening, and considers the difficult position it occupies now as both an important piece of LGBT history and a document that wasn’t intended for publication.

This podcast was produced as part of a series where archivists talk about the documents they think you should know about. You can view the rest of the series here.

Music:

‘Sam, the Old Accordian Man’ by the Williams Sisters

‘Night Latch Key Blues’ by Virginia Liston

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Oscar Wilde’s trial and imprisonment – a short play

This short play explores the trial and imprisonment of Oscar Wilde. In 1895 the celebrated author and playwright was found guilty of gross indecency and sentenced to two years imprisonment, with hard labour. The words are taken directly from records held by The National Archives, particularly the petition that Wilde made to the Home Secretary seeking early release, and letters written about him to the governor of Reading Gaol.

This play was first performed as part of The National Archives;’ Victorian Crime night in October 2016 and was subsequently performed as part of ‘Museums Showoff’, ‘OUTing the Past Festival’ and a ‘Queer and the State’ event. Find out here how we brought Oscar Wilde’s words to life.

By Caroline Osborne-James

Cast (in order of appearance):

  • Narrator: Lucy Fletcher
  • Oscar Wilde: Gary Thorpe
  • John Sholto Douglas (Marquess of Queensbury): Kevin Chambers
  • Lily Wilde: Fleur Soper
  • Chaplain: Liz Bryant
  • An Irishwoman: Clarissa Angus
  • More Adey: Jon Ryder-Oliver
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Bombs, bulls and civilian bravery

In this podcast The National Archives’ Principal Military Specialist reveals some of his favourite stories about civilian gallantry from the First and Second World Wars, from the bravery of the youngest recipient of the George medal to a bizarre tale involving a bomb and some table tennis bats.

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‘A Bit of a Scratch’, a radio drama about the battle against Venereal Disease during the First World War

‘A Bit of a Scratch’ explores the first recorded prosecution under the Venereal Diseases Act 1917. The legislation was introduced due to the large numbers, roughly 5%, of UK troops returning from the First World War with venereal diseases and to ensure that treatment was undertaken by qualified medical professionals. The last century has seen remarkable developments in sexual health, however with rising numbers of sexually transmitted infections and the emergence of antimicrobial resistant disease, the provision of high quality sexual health services are more important than ever.

This podcast was produced jointly with the British Association for Sexual Health and HIV (BASHH). More information on the issues contained within this podcast can be found on the BASHH website and @BASHH_UK.

By: Debbie Manship

Cast (in order of appearance):

  • Narrator: Stephen McGann
  • Billy: Louis Cardona
  • Edie: Lowri Amies
  • Chemist: David Jarvis
  • Doctor: Peter Wickham
  • All other parts were played by members of the cast.
  • Composer: Chris Madin
  • Studio Engineer: Holly Parris
  • Director: Paul Dawson

Produced by Role Call and iD Audio in association with M & F Health Communications”The British Army’s fight against Venereal Disease in the ‘Heroic Age of Prostitution'” by Richard Marshall is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 4.0

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