Dra­matic WWII dash fo­cus of show

Auckland City Harbour News - - NEWS - By CARALISE TRAYES

The story of a war bride who’s last minute change of heart made news­pa­per head­lines in 1946 is now back in the pub­lic eye.

Glo­ria Stan­ford, who now lives in Avon­dale, made a dra­matic last minute dash from an Amer­i­can­bound ship af­ter re­al­is­ing she didn’t want to leave friends and fam­ily in New Zealand.

Her tale, first re­ported in the Auck­land Star, has been turned into a stage show be­ing per­formed at the Centrestage Theatre in Orewa.

Glo­ria was 21 and liv­ing at Ep­som with her 18-month-old son when she joined a con­tin­gent of women who’d mar­ried Amer­i­can ser­vice­men dur­ing World War II and boarded a ship headed for the US.

But she changed her mind and, un­der cover of dark­ness, slipped out of her cabin and back to shore be­fore the boat left port.

Her story in­trigued read­ers and, many years later, cap­tured the imag­i­na­tions of her grand­daugh­ters Amy and Cather­ine Waller who turned it into a the­atri­cal pro­duc­tion.

Amy, 29, spent sev­eral years liv­ing in Orewa with boyfriend Nathan Bland af­ter grad­u­at­ing from Welling­ton’s Toi Whakaari Drama School.

She put a script to­gether with in­for­ma­tion gath­ered from sev­eral days of in­ter­view­ing Glo­ria who is now 90.

‘‘Glo­ria loved it. She said I should make it as dra­matic as I wanted.

‘‘I was also re­ally in­ter­ested in look­ing at mem­ory and per­spec­tive, how I heard and in­ter­preted the story as a child. I’ve cre­ated mo­ments like that in the show. It ex­plores how sto­ries can warp and beau­tify through the lens of mem­ory.’’

Amy says her grand­mother is head­strong, vi­va­cious, brave, and stub­born – an at­tribute needed in the creative arts world. ‘‘I ad­mire that,’’ Amy says. Amy plays her grand­mother in the one-woman show and with her blonde hair she strikes a close re­sem­blance, Glo­ria says.

‘‘I was quite over­whelmed ac­tu­ally, she was lovely the way she did it. She worked so hard,’’ the 90-year-old says.

Amy co-wrote the script with help from younger sis­ter Cather­ine who lives in Los An­ge­les. This is the sec­ond show she has co-writ­ten, the first be­ing Death By Cheer­leader, a com­edy pro­duced in 2011.

‘‘We were given skills at drama school to sur­vive when we are out of work. How to cre­ate your own work. I’ve been think­ing about do­ing this show for a long time.’’

Amy ap­plied for fund­ing from the Auck­land Coun­cil to sup­port the pro­duc­tion’s re­lease in Orewa.

‘‘The coun­cil wants to get more theatre up and around Hibis­cus Coast and this story is re­ally rel­e­vant for a lot of res­i­dents. Even though it is a war story it is still in­ter­est­ing for my gen­er­a­tion as well. It’s fast-paced and there’s a lot of swing mu­sic and dance.’’

Amy is the sole per­former.

Real life: Glo­ria Stan­ford’s war-time ex­pe­ri­ence has been turned into a theatre pro­duc­tion by her grand­daugh­ter Amy Waller.

War bride: Glo­ria Stan­ford, in the 1940s, is head­strong, vi­va­cious, brave, and stub­born, some­thing that grand­daugh­ter Amy Waller ad­mires.

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