In 2012, Gareth Williams and I were looking at all the planned memorials for the First World War. It felt like all the stories were about bravery and sacrifice and heroism – but what about those who failed to live up to this ideal? This story challenges what we think about the war and how we memorialise the dead.Oliver Emanuel, writer
Between 1914 and 1918, many British soldiers were convicted of military offences, including cowardice, mutiny and desertion, and were executed. In 2006, 306 of them received posthumous pardons. Now a new series of plays brings their lives back into sharp focus, challenging our notions of patriotism, heroism and glory.
Written by playwright Oliver Emanuel and composer Gareth Williams, and directed by Laurie Sansom for the National Theatre of Scotland, The 306 is a trilogy of plays focusing on the lives and deaths of three soldiers: Joseph Byers, aged 17 from Glasgow; Harry Farr, a 25-year-old Londoner; and Joseph Willie Stones, a year younger from Durham. The trilogy explores the poignant true stories of these soldiers, the families and friends who lost their loved ones, and the century-long campaign to see them pardoned.
Dawn, part 1 of the trilogy, received its world premiere at a special dawn performance in May during the Perth Festival of the Arts. Parts 2 and 3 will follow in 2017 and 2018.
Presented by 14-18 NOW, National Theatre of Scotland and Perth Theatre, in association with Red Note Ensemble.