Dramatic WWII dash focus of show
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.