Gal­lipoli re­called in Plim­mer­ton

Kapi-Mana News - - NEWS - By KRIS DANDO

It doesn’t mat­ter how many times Paulette McIn­doe reads the scenes, or has them read by ac­tors, she still gets goose­bumps.

McIn­doe is the direc­tor of Mana Lit­tle Theatre’s lat­est pro­duc­tion, Once on Chunuk Bair, set on one day dur­ing the fa­mous battle in Gal­lipoli in 1915.

She said the re­hearsals had had an ef­fect on her.

‘‘ When you think about how many of th­ese sol­diers be­came ca­su­al­ties in this battle, they were like lambs to the slaugh­ter,’’ she said. ‘‘It never fails to make the hairs on the back of my neck stand up.’’

The play runs at Mana Lit­tle Theatre in Plim­mer­ton from April 15 till 25.

It is McIn­doe’s di­rec­to­rial de­but and with as­sis­tance from dozens of vol­un­teers and a largely Porirua cast, she is con­fi­dent it will be a hit.

‘‘ It’s been won­der­ful. I’m so lucky to have the best light­ing, sound and cos­tume peo­ple, not to men­tion th­ese 12 bril­liant men who will take to the stage.

‘‘ Ev­ery­one is so pas­sion­ate about putting on this pro­duc­tion.

‘‘It’s par­tic­u­larly poignant as we come to 100 years since Gal­lipoli and while this play is not a happy one, it’s a story that has to be told. I’m hop­ing for a strong au­di­ence re­ac­tion.’’

Once on Chunuk Bair is cel­e­brated New Zealand writer Mau­rice Shad­bolt’s only pub­lished play. It was pub­lished in 1982 and later made into a movie.

The play takes place on Au­gust 8, 1915, and tells the story of a group of sol­diers from the Welling­ton Bat­tal­ion try­ing des­per­ately to hold a key peak on the Gal­lipoli penin­sula.

It con­fronts the hor­rific re­al­i­ties of war, but in true New Zealand style with hu­mour and dogged­ness, McIn­doe said.

Tragedy, hero­ism and heart­break abound – of the 760 men who reached the sum­mit, 711 were wounded or killed.

‘‘They’ve taken the sum­mit and are wait­ing for the Bri­tish to back them, but it’s fair to say it all turns to custard.

‘‘You learn their hopes and fears – from the colonel who’s roughly based on [bat­tal­ion com­man­der] Lieu­tenant- Colonel Wil­liam Malone, to the shiny new lieu­tenant, to the sergeant who’s been around the block.

‘‘ They quickly re­alised they were all doomed.’’

In the pro­duc­tion Bruce Can­nell plays the colonel, and his two sons, Ja­cob and Bax­ter, will join him on stage.

To en­sure au­then­tic­ity, real World War I ri­fles, ammo boxes and uni­forms were sourced from a pri­vate ar­mourer and through the gen­eros­ity of staff at Tren­tham Mil­i­tary Camp and Wrights Hill, McIn­doe said.

Cos­tume ex­pert Sue Miller was piv­otal to the pro­duc­tion, she said.

For McIn­doe per­son­ally, it’s an im­por­tant play.

‘‘My grand­fa­ther was a pi­lot in World War II and for my grand­mother, An­zac Day was her holy day.’’

Plim­mer­ton his­to­rian Al­lan Dod­son will set up a dis­play in Mana Lit­tle Theatre’s foyer, telling the sto­ries of Porirua sol­diers who served in World War I.

Aside from April 19, when there is a 3pm mati­nee, all the per­for­mances will be at 8pm. Bookings are es­sen­tial.

Phone 233 2235 or email mlt tick­ets@ gmail. com and leave a mes­sage.

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