Puneet Varma (Editor)

Breaker Morant (play)

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Written by  Kenneth G. Ross
Setting  South Africa.
Playwright  Kenneth G. Ross
Adaptations  Breaker Morant (1980)
Place premiered  Melbourne Athenaeum
Date premiered  2 February 1978
First performance  2 February 1978
Genre  Drama
Original language  English language
Breaker Morant (play)
Characters  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
Subjects  Military history of South Africa, Court-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.

First performance

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 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.


    Breaker Morant (play) Wikipedia

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