Colonel Stewart Francis Newcombe was already a legend in the deserts of Arabia before he was joined in Cairo during the early months of the First World War by a group of extraordinary specialists in Middle Eastern affairs. One member of this group was T.E. Lawrence who went on to achieve worldwide fame. Colonel Newcombe's story, like those of other unsung figures in the Anglo-Arabian panoply, has been eclipsed by the legend of ´Lawrence of Arabia´, and has languished in the dusty recesses of regimental records, government files or in the elliptical words of Lawrence’s book Seven Pillars of Wisdom. However, S.F. Newcombe´s untold story is there to be told. IN THE SHADOW OF THE CRESCENT is a story of extraordinary exploits and courage, coupled with Newcombe's own legendary and inexhaustible supply of energy and of remarkable adventures under the very noses of the Ottoman authorities – full of danger, intrigue and perhaps more surprisingly, of romance during Newcombe's captivity in Turkey.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

The Man with the Gold

T.E. Lawrence Society Announcement

Following on from the success of The Oxford Roof Climber’s Rebellion at the 2014 Symposium, the Society is pleased to bring a new play to the stage at the 2016 Symposium. The Man with the Gold has been written by distinguished author Jan Woolf. The performance at St John’s College on the evening of Friday September 23 will be the world premiere. 

The British government is at war again in the Middle East and never before has an understanding of the historical dynamic linking the Sykes-Picot treaty at the end of WWI to the present day been so vital. This new play, started by Jan Woolf on an archaeological dig in Jordan in 2013, has been completed for the centenary of the Arab Revolt against Ottoman rule during WWI. Its intention is to unravel the complex “hero” it produced in T. E. Lawrence. Set in the present, it centres on two archaeologists as they prepare a centenary exhibition in a war museum. As they unravel their own personal connections, ghosts are unwittingly summoned and the myth of “Lawrence of Arabia” excavated. 

“It’s terrific: witty, unusual, and timely, and it’s going to be very watch-able. Bringing Lawrence to life through the preparation for an exhibition is a riveting device. You feel he is being dug out of the desert sand in front of you to rise up like a scrap of desert mist. A wraith with a message who blasts his way into the present to deliver it.” Heathcote Williams

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