Chunuk Bair on stage
HEROIC stories from Gallipoli are returning to the stage after a 25-year absence.
The Auckland Theatre Company is bringing Once on Chunuk Bair to the Maidment Theatre in June.
The Maurice Shadbolt play is set between dawn and dusk on August 8, 1915.
It follows the Wellington Battalion’s effort to capture the strategic peak of Chunuk Bair on Turkey’s Gallipoli Peninsula.
Only 70 of the 760 men who took to the summit returned unharmed.
‘‘These young men headed off to war in good faith to fight for king and country, only to be used as cannon fodder by their British commanders,’’ Auckland Theatre Company artistic director Colin McColl says.
‘‘ Once on Chunuk Bair shows the courage and endurance of our brave lads, the friendships and camaraderie they had for each other.
‘‘It’s an event that has defined the Anzac spirit.’’
Director Ian Mune says it is important that people hear the stories.
‘‘This is a part of New Zealand. In amongst the death and destruction the New Zealanders were able to see themselves as having their own identity rather than just as members Empire.’’
Mune will lead a cast of 13 actors, including Jordan Mooney, Andrew Grainger and Wesley Dowdell with codirector Cameron Rhodes.
The late Shadbolt penned the play after a visit to Chunuk Bair in 1977 and it was Mune who directed its first performance in 1982 at the Mercury Theatre.
Mune says it is a demanding play to perform with all of the cast remaining on stage throughout.
It was adapted into a feature film in 1991.
of the British
Mune hopes the play will have as strong a response as it did at the time.
‘‘Interestingly, around that time in the 1980s there was a resurgence in interest around Anzac, whereas when I was 20 people would ask ‘ why are we celebrating war?’ But we can’t forget the people who gave their lives – war is a terrible waste of life.’’
Once on Chunuk Bair runs from June 12 to July 5 at the Maidment Theatre, 8 Alfred St.
Go to atc.co.nz or phone 308 2383 for tickets.
Chunuk Bair: Actor Jordan Mooney is one of a cast of 13 bringing Maurice Shadbolt’s Once on Chunuk Bair to the stage at the Maidment Theatre.
Tragic story: Ian Mune returns to direct the poignant production Once on Chunuk Bair.