1 Comment
Feb 27, 2023·edited Feb 27, 2023Author

I've been doing some reading, and while I won't re-edit the post, cos it's such a lovely story, and the feelings described are exactly what we felt... I've since learned something new that demiracles it a tad.

Short story: the version of the play that Michael acted in, the premiere, was written before Shadbolt did the interview with Dan Curham, or any of the other veterans. His authorship of the play was what encouraged the director-general of Television New Zealand Allan Martin to offer him the role of finding and interviewing some of the few remaining survivors of the Gallipoli campaign. He did this with Chris Pugsley - the world's foremost authority on NZ's efforts in that campaign - and potentially the whole thing full stop.

Shadbolt writes "Martin's offer was difficult to refuse. For one thing, I was then revising Once on Chunuk Bair for publication and future productions. Interviews with veterans might give me more material to work with, especially in terms of stage business."

I'm writing this within hours of finding out, so I don't know the full implications. I don't know whether the text of the play that I've read was the one Michael performed (the premiere) or whether it was slightly or heavily revised following these interviews. Time may tell.

What I do know is that Michael played a character who was a machine gunner (the only one) in Once On Chunuk Bair by Maurice Shadbolt in 1982. Then in 2022 Michael lent his voice to Dan Curham, a machine gunner (the only one) who's verbatim testimony was recorded by Shadbolt soon after.

There's a lot going on here, and it's all quite delightful and magical. I'm also aware that part of this project is trying to peer through the mists of time and memory to get as close as possible to the horse's mouth. So here endeth my correction or addendum or what have you.

Expand full comment