Mengele: 'the best way to remember'
Following a sell-out success last year, Tim Marriott and Smokescreen Productions return to Assembly Festival this year with their play Mengele. Produced to support the work of The Holocaust Education Trust and based on an award winning novel by Philip Wharam, this challenging piece has been very well received by audiences wherever it has gone and the company return this year with Mengele and their new play, Judas.
The aim of these plays is to learn lessons of the past, highlighting how radicalisation can develop and to encourage the audience to combat the rhetoric of hatred wherever they find it in today’s world. Both Judas and Mengele have achieved critical success but the work doesn't please everyone. Besides the occasional and perhaps predictable attempts to deny and discredit, the company have also seen their posters violently vandalised.
At last year's Edinburgh Fringe Festival posters advertising Mengele were sliced with a knife and daubed with ‘dirt’. At such an inclusive festival this was seen by the company as simply an unfortunate one-off. However, last month the Smokescreen Productions team took Mengele to the Avignon Festival where they encountered similar treatment. Posters were ripped down or defaced with the Star of David and scrawled with the number 18, a reference to the initials of Adolf Hitler.
This is an unsettling reflection of bitter and regressive ideologies that are somehow still in existence today. The acts of vandalism described above force us to consider that perhaps we have not come as far as we would hope in the last 75 years. It is alarming to imagine that such toxic rhetoric still exists, but proof of the vital and persistent need to acknowledge and scrutinise contemporary conflict and the mistakes of the past in order to pursue a kinder future. Director Tim Marriott stated;
“as we approach the 75th anniversary of end of the second world war it is disturbing that we still encounter such bigotry, but we need to recognise where it comes from and do our best to stand up to it. As Auschwitz survivor Lydia Tischler once said ‘the best way to remember is for it not to happen again, as the potential for destructiveness is in all of us.’”
Mengele plays the Blue Room in George Square in rep with Judas on alternate days at 12.05