1941. Winter. The Nazis are bombing Britain into oblivion; Russia is draining our resources; the USA reels from a Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor and refuses our cries for help; the Prime Minister desperately crosses the Atlantic by sea to appeal in person to the US military, to Congress and to the President at the White House family Christmas - and suffers a heart attack. Churchill is seriously not welcome. Did the special relationship arise out of this? Allies?

Alliance unwraps the "special relationship".

The Proposed Production:

Alliance

A Play by Giles Cole
© Holofcener Ltd and Alliance - The Play Ltd

Production planned for opening early in 2022, followed by a UK national tour and transfer to London's West End.

Outline

The Blitz
The White House
Churchill and Roosevelt
The Allies

Synopsis

Winter. 1941. The darkest days of World War II. Britain is struggling under Nazi bombardment. Prime Minister Winston Churchill is having to strike a deal with Stalin in Russia. America is the ally Britain really needs - but neutral America is stinging from a Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor in the Pacific Ocean. US President Franklin D Roosevelt is now intent on revenge in the Far East. If America is to be an ally, Churchill has to steer FDR away from fighting Japan to fighting a war across the Atlantic Ocean, in Europe, first. How?

Churchill invites himself to the White House to meet the President. FDR and Churchill have met before, and FDR still smarts from Churchill's snub. Churchill considers the dangerous Atlantic crossing to be a risk worth taking. This will not be an easy meeting.

The play lifts the lid on what happened (and what might have happened!) when Churchill landed in the White House, and exploded Eleanor Roosevelt's quiet, private family Christmas and their New Year celebrations in 1941/42. It exposes her animosity to Churchill; puts the presidential marital relationship under a microscope; reveals FDR's reluctance to countermand US military advisers, and shows how Churchill's health, and personal habits, made matters even worse.

Giles Cole's deliciously amusing, sharp, perceptive and eloquent script, discloses how, whilst fighting the implacable US General Marshall, coaxing the reluctant and evasive President, being obsequiously charming with Eleanor and direct with the White House staff, Churchill leans on FDR's diplomat Harry Hopkins for support and whisky. Through a series of fast-moving scenes, set against a wartime backdrop of Pathé Newsreel films, the play explores the emerging relationship between the two heads of state under the fierce gaze of Eleanor Roosevelt, as they establish a "special relationship" that could enable the USA to become the UK's prime ally in World War II, if it comes off , which looks unlikely when Churchill suffers a heart attack and has to convince Congress to become Britain's ally.

There's an account of Churchill's unnerving return Atlantic crossing and an acknowledgement of the two nations' relationship, that is today reflected in the Allies sculpture in New Bond Street, London W1.

This is an especially topical production, reflected in the light of today's political situation.

Graham Pountney was interviewed by Sarah Gorrell on BBC Radio Surrey & Sussex on the 20th November 2020.

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The Big Sleepover at the White House

Churchill and Roosevelt: The Big Sleepover at the White House

A book by James Mikel Wilson

The book that inspired the stage play Alliance

Available from Amazon for £3.06 as a download or £6.85 as a paperback

Many remain unaware that Prime Minister Winston Churchill, at great personal risk, came to visit President Franklin Roosevelt shortly after Japan bombed Pearl Harbor. The book Churchill and Roosevelt: The Big Sleepover at the White House portrays the events of the three weeks that Churchill occupied the White House with the Roosevelts. Focused on the aftermath of the attack, Roosevelt was in no mood to host a foreign dignitary. Fortunately, Churchill prevailed.

Even though one was a liberal and the other a conservative, the two men discovered they had more in common than they realized. Both were strong willed, opinionated and accustomed to getting their way. But, the fate of the world depended on their adeptness at finding common ground and making concessions.

During their time together, Churchill and Roosevelt shared many private moments as they forged a bond of friendship, trust, admiration, and cooperation. Certainly differences in culture, biases and wartime experience initially tested the relationship. Rather quickly, however, an unbreakable alliance was created that set a path to victory. One could submit that these three weeks were the most pivotal in WWII.

In the book, the author sets out to humanize these two epic leaders of the twentieth century. He reveals not only their fears and tears, but also their humor, passions, personalities and schemes.

James Mikel Wilson (author)

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