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Finding the Focus

The Farm Hall Papers 

It took me a long time to figure out how to do this play.

For a start I couldn't quite think what the focus of the play was going to be, or how many characters it was going to have.

One of the wrong alleys I went up was thinking that I would dramatize what are called the Farm Hall Papers. This is the record that was made by the British Intelligence of the conversations of the German physicists after they had been arrested and interned in a country house in England in 1945.

It's an extremely interesting document, one of the best sources of finding out what was going on in the heads of the German physicists.

But then I thought, that's not really the story I want to tell.

Farm Hall

Farm Hall 
Photo credits
See the Society for the Historical Preservation of the Manhattan Project website for more information on the Farm Hall Papers.

Gestapo Point of View  

The story is really about the meeting in 1941. I knew that both men would probably be under surveillance by the Gestapo, and Heisenberg was certainly under surveillance by British intelligence later on.

So I thought I would have the Gestapo and the British Intelligence listen in on the conversations and tell the audience what was going on. But then gradually I thought 'do we need these people?' Do we need these extras just sitting in the darkness listening to what's happening. We've got an audience already, why not use them?

So in the end that's what I have done. I've made the audience who sat in the theatre the audience for the conversations of Bohr and Heisenberg.

Hitler and Nazis

Nazi Hierarchy: Hitler, Goering, Goebbels and Hess
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Playwright Michael Frayn



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