Breaker Morant (play)
|Written by||Kenneth G. Ross|
|Date premiered||2 February 1978|
|Place premiered||Athenaeum Theatre
|Subject||The Boer Wars, Courts-martial, Military justice, Summary execution|
Breaker Morant: A Play in Two Acts is a significant Australian play written by Kenneth G. Ross, centred on the court-martial and the last days of Lieutenant Harry "Breaker" Morant (1864–1902) of the Bushveldt Carbineers (BVC), that was first performed at the Athenaeum Theatre, in Melbourne, Victoria, Australia, on Thursday, 2 February 1978, by the Melbourne Theatre Company.
Described at the time as an "interesting, though underwritten biographical study", the first performance of the play was directed and designed by John Sumner, the founding director of the Melbourne Theatre Company.
The cast of the first performance of the play, directed and designed by John Sumner, on 2 February 1978 were:
- Lieutenant Harry (Breaker) Morant — Terence Donovan
- Lieutenant George Witton — Gary Day
- Lieutenant Peter Handcock — John Stanton
- First Interrogator; President of the Court-Martial [Lieutenant-Colonel Henry Cuthbert Denny (1858-?)] — Barry Hill
- Second Interrogator; Dr. Johnson; Officer — Edward Hepple
- Third Interrogator; Mr. Robinson; Officer; Colonel Hamilton — Anthony Hawkins
- Major James Francis Thomas — Jonathan Hardy
- Major Bolton — Gerard Maguire
- Lord Kitchener — Simon Chilvers
- Sgt-Major Drummitt; Sergeant — Rob Harrison
- Trooper; Trooper Botha; Trooper — Gary Down
- Corporal; Captain Taylor; Corporal — Michael Edgar
- Trooper; Corporal Sharp; Trooper — Roy Baldwin
- Trooper; Van Rooyan; Trooper — Ian Suddards
- Trooper; Officer; Trooper — Peter Dunn
- Officer — Detlef Bauer
- Trooper — Michael Morrell
Review of first performance
"In this interesting, though under-written, biographical study, Adelaide writer, Kenneth Ross, turns his attention to the Boer War and to an unsavoury episode involving two Australian lieutenants, who were tried and executed by the British." (Childs, 1978).
Conversion to a movie
The screenplay of the film, to which Ross had made a considerable contribution as a writer (i.e., in addition to his stage play having been the inspiration and basis for the screenplay), was nominated for the 1981 Academy Award for Best Writing, Screenplay Based on Material from Another Medium.
- At the time the play was first performed , he was known as Kenneth Ross; he is now known as Kenneth G. Ross (see here for more information his name change).
- Morris, C., "Show Scene: Daredevil Horseman and Poet", The Age, (Thursday, 2 February 1978), p.19.
- Living Out: Theatre: 'Breaker' Morant", The Age Weekender, (Friday, 23 February 1978), p.7.
- Ross, Kenneth, Breaker Morant: A Play in Two Acts, Edward Arnold, (Melbourne), 1979. ISBN 0-7267-0997-2
- Jillett, N. (ed), "Arts/Entertainment: Briefly: Plays for Stage and Screen", The Age, 28 June 1978, p. 2., col.F. (Refers to Ross waiting to hear of the outcome of two definite offers: a Broadway production of his play "Don't Piddle Against the Wind", and the conversion of his play into a film either for cinema or for television.)
- Childs, K. (ed), "Weekender: Living Out: Theatre: ‘Breaker Morant’ ", The Age, 24 February 1978, p. 7., col.C; 3 March 1978, p. 9., col.D.
- 'Villains or Victims' in Australian War Memorial, Wartime, Issue No. 18, 2002, pp. 12–16.
- Wilcox, Craig. 'Ned Kelly in Khaki', in The Weekend Australian Magazine, 23-24 Feb, 2002, pp. 20–22.
- Australians at War: Major Thomas Defended Breaker Morant
- Personal Histories: Boer War & WW1: James Francis Thomas - The Man Who Defended Breaker Morant
- Fox, Frank, "The Bushveldt Carbineers: Letter to the Editor", The (Adelaide) Advertiser, (Wednesday, 2 July 1902), p.6, Col.I.
- "The Court-Martialled Australians: How Morant and Handcock Died: Letter From Their Warder", The Argus, (Thursday, 3 April 1902), p.5, col.C.
- Rawson, R., "Fine acting, set make strong defense against 'Breaker's' flaws", Pittsburg Post-Gazette, (Wednesday, 13 November 2002), p.E-4.
- Ross, Kenneth, "The truth about Harry", The Age, 26 February 2002. (Written on the hundredth anniversary of Morant's execution and the twenty-fourth anniversary of the first performance of his play, the same article appeared in the Sydney Morning Herald of 26 February 2002 in almost identical form)
- ABC Radio interview conducted by Simon Marnie with Andrew George and Mark Lee five days before the 13 April 2012 opening night.
- Fulton, A., "Soldiers on stage bring a touch of realism to Breaker tale", Sydney Morning Herald', Tuesday, 10 April 2012.