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Poole’s Guildhall goes back in time to become a World War 1 courtroom

A new performance of the play ‘SHOT AT DAWN’ by BAFTA award-winning scriptwriter John Foster Directed by Kirstie Davis

Poole Guildhall Shot at DawnAfter a sell-out performance of BAFTA award-winning scriptwriter John Foster’s gripping courtroom drama Shot at Dawn, atmospherically staged in Bournemouth Town Hall’s Council Chambers, Doppelganger Productions is coming to Poole Guildhall this May as part of a Dorset wide tour. 
This compelling and emotional drama is based on the true story of two young men from the Dorsetshire Regiment, on trial for cowardice; the outcome if a guilty verdict could lead to execution by firing squad.

John Foster spent time studying the original transcripts from the trials, which were until recently restricted from public access.  Now for the first time this material is available, and combined with first-hand eyewitness letters, diaries and accounts, the story reveals how these two heroes were suffering from what we now know as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, yet were condemned to death for their perceived disloyalty. The strength and originality of this new production has been acknowledged with support from national funding through the Arts Council Grants for the Arts, Heritage Lottery, Big Lottery Fund, West Dorset District Council, Arts University Bournemouth and Borough of Poole’.

Writer, John Foster, explains the motivation behind the play: “The Great War is currently well- documented and life in the trenches depicted in often harrowing detail.  Most narratives focus upon the heroism of soldiers, the incompetence of the commanders and the futility of war.” He continues: “Shot at Dawn tells a different story.  A stain on the memory of many soldiers who served remained until 2006 when a general pardon was issued by the British Government to three-hundred-and-sixty British and Commonwealth soldiers who had been summarily court martialled for cowardice and shot at dawn.”

The touring production will be dramatically brought to life as it is performed in historic courtrooms across Dorset.  Kirstie Davis, Play Director said: ‘We are particularly honored to be performing  in the  magnificent Guildhall in Poole this year, formerly the town’s Magistrate’s Court;  as this historic  venue really sets the scene and reinforces the stark reality that soldiers were denied legal representation and the right of appeal’.

With 2 performances in this unique location, audiences can expect a truly thrilling piece of theatre with a chance to learn more about writing the past by attending a workshop with John Foster at the Poole Museum on the 1st May. Plus a chance to come along to the afternoon Tea Dance held at Poole United Reform Church Hall on Wednesday 27 April, to help build up the Living Memories project of Dorset during the great war.

Shot at Dawn runs from the 4th – 5th May 2016. For full range of the talks and events go to link will open in new window or to book into the Writing in the Past workshop email  

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