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One of Those: gay NZ history on stage

Thu 17 Jul 2014 In: Performance View at NDHA

A dramatic piece of New Zealand’s gay history will be brought to the stage again next month – the story of the Wanganui mayor who shot a man who was blackmailing him to resign, threatening to expose him as gay. Charles Mackay As Queer History New Zealand puts it, “Saturday, May 15, 1920, was an unlucky day for Charles Mackay, Mayor of Wanganui.” Five days before he’d met a handsome young poet D'Arcy Cresswell – which was a set up. The pair went on an evening visit to the Sarjeant Art Gallery, which led to Cresswell demanding Mackay resign as Mayor, or else be exposed as a "pervert". They met in the morning in Mackay’s office, where Cresswell gave him a week to resign. “Mackay pleaded for hours, threatened suicide, begged Cresswell to spare his family. Cresswell forced him to write a confession, then, after further bargaining, a letter of resignation to be held in safe keeping for a month. They turned to leave,” Queer History New Zealand says, before Mackay turned and shot him in the chest. He put the revolver in the younger man’s hand to make it look like suicide. Mackay was quickly nabbed when Cresswell threw a chair through a window and called for help. D'Arcy Cresswell later in life The poet recovered, although the bullet stayed lodged in his lung for 12 years, and told the police all. Mackay was ultimately sentenced to 15 years hard labour after admitting attempted murder, but served seven. When released he moved to England, became a successful journalist - but was killed by mistake by a Berlin policeman while he was covering a riot in 1929. Cresswell went on to, in 1950, write a poem defending male homosexuality! Bringing it back to the stage A one-man show based on the story, One of Those, was written in 2002 by actor David Charteris. He will bring it to life once again. The actor says while Cresswell went on to become well-known in literary circles his verse and contribution to New Zealand literature have long fallen into oblivion. “But what I have tried to do in this hour long performance is resurrect the colourful character of this self-opinionated blackmailer. “Both sides of the encounter are given, tracing the tragic consequences of the trial to the final humiliation that brought Cresswell to his own suicide.” One of Those is being directed by Bruce Brown, who brought the rich Legacy Project to the Auckland Pride Festival. One of Those: The Vault @ Auckland's Q Theatre, 12th - 16 August @ 7.30pm Tickets $20 Buy tickets here   Jacqui Stanford - 17th July 2014    

Credit: Jacqui Stanford

First published: Thursday, 17th July 2014 - 3:18pm

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