Death at Dawn
Death at Dawn first cast read through

Death at Dawn dress rehearsal
(photo © David Turnbull)

Peter Mortimer's full-length play, Death at Dawn, is a major production staged to mark the 100th anniversary of the outbreak of World War One and commissioned by the Tynemouth World War One Commemoration Project.

Death at Dawn is based on a real case, that of the young North Shields soldier William Hunter who was court-martialed and executed in France in 1916 for desertion. More than 300 soldiers were shot at dawn by the British Army in the Great War but Hunter's case is unusual because sentence was carried out even though the authorities believed at the time that he had signed on under-age. In almost every other similar case, the death sentence was reprieved. For reasons unknown, the sentence on Hunter was carried out. The play examines possible reasons and also explores the realities behind a policy that saw the army shoot its own men.

The play takes place on Tyneside, Merseyside, in Montreal, Canada and on the Western Front.

Read what Peter Mortimer told the Journal about the play.

Death at Dawn is directed by Jackie Fielding and funded by Arts Council England, the Heritage Lottery Fund and North Tyneside Council. It was performed at the Linskill Centre, North Shields, from 1st - 6th September 2014.

"... tremendous intimacy, especially in the claustrophobic scenes in the trenches ..."

Peter Lathan, British Theatre Guide

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