Playhouse shines a light on a chilling true story this month

Propaganda Swing'Photo by Robert Day
Propaganda Swing'Photo by Robert Day

Coventry’s Belgrade Theatre and Nottingham Playhouse are to shine a spotlight on the gripping true story of Charly and His Orchestra.

The theatres are presenting the UK premiere of Peter Arnott’s gripping WWII drama Propaganda Swing

Directed by Belgrade Theatre artistic director Hamish Glen, Propaganda Swing is a captivating combination of WWII intrigue and drama set against a backdrop of glitz, and Big Band swagger.

It was performed at the Belgrade from September 13-27, and now transfers to Nottingham Playhouse from October 3-18.

This compelling new play reveals the characters behind the true story of how some of the greatest German jazz musicians entered into a pact with the Fascists to continue playing their beloved music at the price of seeing it corrupted for evil. The Nazis hated jazz but one of them, Propaganda Ministry official, Karl “Charly” Schwedler, understood its true power. And he made it his mission to harness that power so the Nazis could use jazz as a weapon of war.

Tickets are available on 0115 9419419.

Peter Arnott said: “I first came across the story of Charly and His Orchestra when I was book reviewing for a newspaper in Glasgow and I remember thinking that this was one of the most incredible stories I had ever heard.

“The play takes place in the early days of WWII when Lord Haw Haw was broadcasting from Germany to Britain and centres on a real-life Nazi Jazz Band who broadcast re-worked versions of popular jazz standards complete with viciously anti-Semitic lyrics.

“The Nazis loathed jazz and yet they knew how to harness its power as a form of light entertainment. It was that paradox that struck me as incredible and I knew that within that paradox lay the origins of a fascinating human drama”.

This brand new co-production with Nottingham Playhouse follows the success of the two theatres’ previous co-production of Charlie Peace: His Amazing Life and Astounding Legend which premiered in Nottingham in September 2013.

It features a talented cast of eight actor-musicians performing some of the greatest jazz music of the era.