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What newly-released MI5 archives reveal about American actor Sam Wanamaker

11:20, Mon 9 Nov 2009

From 1950 to 1958, Paul Robeson was unable to travel and perform abroad. His passport was withdrawn by the State Department, claiming it would be 'against US interests' were Robeson to speak abroad. Meanwhile another American radical, the actor-director Sam Wanamaker - creator of the rebuilt Globe Theatre -was based in England, one of many artists who quit the US in protest against McCarthyism. Washington tried to persuade London that he represented a serious security risk, and during the 'fifities he was often under surveillance . Robeson and Wanamaker had been allies in the 1940s. In 1959 they finally appeared together on the Stratford stage, as Othello and Iago. In Autumn 2009 Sam Wanamaker's security files in Britain's National Archive were released. Tony Howard (Warwick University) discusses the story of paranoia and commitment told by these phonetaps, intercepted letters, and secret memos.

(MP3 format, 18 MB)


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Paul Robeson