Breaker Morant (play)

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For the film directed by Bruce Beresford based on this play, see Breaker Morant (film).
Breaker Morant
Breaker Morant.jpg
"Breaker" Morant
Written by Kenneth G. Ross
  • Lieutenant Morant
  • Lieutenant Witton
  • Lieutenant Handcock
  • President of the Court-Martial
  • Dr. Johnson
  • Mr. Robinson
  • Colonel Hamilton
  • Major Thomas
  • Lord Kitchener
  • Sgt-Major Drummitt
  • Trooper Botha
  • Captain Taylor
  • Corporal Sharp
  • Van Rooyan
  • Interrogators
  • Military personnel
Date premiered 2 February 1978
Place premiered Athenaeum Theatre
Melbourne, Victoria
Original language English
Subject The Boer Wars, Courts-martial, Military justice, Summary execution
Genre Drama
Setting South Africa.

Breaker Morant: A Play in Two Acts is a significant Australian play written by Kenneth G. Ross,[1] 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.[2]

Described at the time as an "interesting, though underwritten biographical study",[3] the first performance of the play was directed and designed by John Sumner, the founding director of the Melbourne Theatre Company.

First performance[edit]

The cast of the first performance of the play, directed and designed by John Sumner, on 2 February 1978 were:

Review of first performance[edit]

Kenneth G. Ross

"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[edit]

The script of Ross's play was almost immediately converted into the screenplay for Bruce Beresford's 1980 film Breaker Morant.

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.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ 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).
  2. ^ Morris, C., "Show Scene: Daredevil Horseman and Poet", The Age, (Thursday, 2 February 1978), p.19.
  3. ^ 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.

External links[edit]