Sunday, 10 June 2012

Enola Gay

Pilot, Paul Tibbets, waves from
the cockpit of the Enola Gay
I promised to tell you more about the play I'm working on, but hesitated because of a couple of false starts.

1945. An American B29 bomber approaches Japan bearing a new kind of weapon. In Hiroshima people awake from a night of false alarms.

Remember the 80's song 'Enola Gay' by Orchestral Maneuvers in the Dark (OMD)? You get an extra point for knowing it's about the dropping of the first atomic bomb and ten more points if you knew they came from Wirral... the band, silly, not the bombs!

So when John Gorman from the Scaffold (and the Wirral) met Andy McClusky from Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark (OMD) (and the Wirral) in Shanghai - China (not the Wirral) they discussed the idea of an anti-war play incorporating the song being written and premiered in Hoylake (in the Wirral). John approached me to write the perspective of the crew of the B29 that dropped  the atom bomb - the Enola Gay and a Japanese writer, performer and storyteller to tell the story from a Japanese perspective.

Interior of the B29, Enola Gay
The project, as far as we know, is unique, being originally written by authors 6000 miles apart with occasional contact via Skype, although for various logistical reasons it is being completed by a locally-based Japanese director Naomi Green and performer Kana Nagashima.

The research has been fascinating but it's a tricky subject - my views on it shifted during the course of writing it and I've resisted, as far as possible, calls for me to wield my 'poetic license' and gone for a drama documentary approach. It'll be especially difficult to portray the horror of the A-bomb and futility of war when in all likelihood the only props we'll have are three chairs and a torch!

And the most exciting part? It is being premiered in just four weeks time at Wirral Festival of Firsts!!! More anon.


  1. Well done, you! That's great news. A stark set might well work to the advantage of the play. Here's wishing you the best of luck with it. Did you get to read John Hersey's 'Hiroshima' as part of your research?

    1. Yes, I already had it and read it a long time ago. But my part in this concentrates solely on the flight itself so my research took a different turn.

  2. Enola is "alone" backwards.

    Let's hope it doesn't bomb

    1. I hadn't noticed that... I wonder if that's where the name came from?

  3. I really hope this is going/has gone well! It reminded me of Leonard Cheshire's book "Bomber Pilot" sat somewhere in my bookcase. He was an observer in a B29 on the Nagasaki raid (one of three, only one had the A bomb). I think he goes into detail about the futility of war, feelings and emotions etc. Then he embarks on charitable endeavours,The Leonard Cheshire Foundation amongst others, with his wife, Sue Ryder.

    Oh, yeah, I really tracked you down as I've done the Liverpool jolly now (not the Wirral), if you want to visit!

    1. Hi Nick - thanks & welcome! I'd forgotten about Leonard Cheshire - the Nagasaki raid was in some ways more interesting... things went wrong and the whole mission was on even shakier ground morally than Hiroshima as they hadn't given Japan much time to react before dropping the second bomb (I'm guessing they wanted to drop the plutonium one quick before Japan surrendered as they hadn't tried that one yet, the Hiroshima one being the uranium kind).