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‘I don’t believe in heroes and cowards. Not in war.It’s only my opinion but I’ve been in it since the beginning.’
The 306: Dawn is a new piece of music theatre from the National Theatre of Scotland as part of 14-18 NOW, the UK’s arts programme for the First World Warcentenary. Based on real events, it charts the journey of three of the British soldiers who were executed for cowardice, desertion and mutiny during World War I (1914-18).
Joseph Byers is too young to enlist but like so many at the time, lies about his age to join the other men at the front. However, his dreams of being a soldier are quickly destroyed by the brutal realities of trench warfare.
Lance-Sergeant Willie Stones used his rifle to block the entrance to a trench during fierce fighting. Now Willie stands accused of casting away his arms in combat – an offence punishable by death. He thought he was protecting his men, but the top brass want to make an example of him to maintain discipline in the ranks.
And Harry Farr is traumatised by the things he has seen at the Battle of the Somme. He has subsequently been convicted of cowardice and, as he waits to hear his fate, he dreams of his wife and hopes for a last minute reprieve.
With a contemporary score performed live by the Red Note Ensemble, the play explores the vulnerability and devastation of the battlefields and the inner struggles of the men.