The return of Nabil Shaban to the Scottish stage in The First to Go (Lyceum Theatre 23-24 May, Tron Theatre, 5-7 June) is something of an event. This is mainly due to his sheer talent and inability to take part in any production that could be dubbed “dull”.
His latest venture is something of a rarity in that it tells the story, apparently for the first time, of Hitler’s Euthanasia programme for disabled people.
I was lucky enough to meet up with Nabil a few years back for a chat, and he was full of ideas, enthusiasm and passion for his work, past, present and future. I wish I had as much energy. He mentioned this idea – I think it was a potential film script at the time – and it sounded groundbreaking then.
I’m going to quote at length from Nabil’s YouTube page as it sums up the play better than any of the pre-publicity I’ve read so far:
THE FIRST TO GO, the First Victims, in Hitler’s systematic drive to purify the Aryan race were people with physical, sensory, mental and psychiatric disabilities. Gas chambers were originally created to speed up the culling of such unwanted “Useless Eaters”, the term used by Hitler to describe disabled people.
Nabil Shaban’s play, THE FIRST TO GO, doesn’t just tell the story of Disabled Victims, it also tells of Disabled Heroes and Disabled Villains.
The Disabled Victims, Siegfried, Heide and Helmut…it is their destiny to be given lethal injections.
The Disabled Villain, Dr. Josef Goebbels, a man who so hated being crippled with a clubbed foot, he chose to hate all disabled people, he masterminded the propaganda campaign advocating Euthanasia.
The Disabled Heroes, Claus von Stauffenberg, the one armed, one eyed “terrorist” who attempted to blow up Hitler.
And Brunhilde, the German Army nurse who becomes disabled and consequently joins the ranks of the persecuted but in doing so, helps thwart Hitler’s plan to rid the world of so-called “imperfect” people.
Here’s a look at a trailer for the play, edited by Nabil. It lasts for ten minutes but it’s worth your time:
I’m going to miss the Edinburgh leg of this tour, but will do my best to get over to Glasgow in June. If you do make it along, please feel free to send in a review or add a comment below, I’d love to know what you thought.