First published 1985 (reprinted 1987, 1989, 1990, 1993, 2004)
The Japanese Military Field Code was explicit: ‘Japanese forces do not surrender to the enemy under any circumstances.’ How then would the eight hundred or so prisoners who found themselves in the first Japanese prisoner-of-war camp anywhere in the world behave? They had been brought from the Solomon Islands to Featherstone in 1942. Six months later an incident occurred in which forty-nine prisoners and one New Zealand guard were killed.
Vincent O'Sullivan explores the implications of this event in a play which immediately rises above mere documentation to consider what happens when people of two cultures are brought together in such extreme circumstances, and when even the best intentions of those who try to offer sympathy and understanding fail in the face of ignorance and prejudice.
Vincent O’Sullivan is the author of three novels — Let the River Stand, which won the 1994 Montana NZ Book Award for fiction; Believers to the Bright Coast, which was shortlisted for the 2001 Tasmania Pacific Region Prize; and All This by Chance (2018) — and many plays and collections of short stories and poems. His most recent collection of short fiction is The Families (2004). His work has been much awarded and he was made a Distinguished Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit in the 2000 Queen's birthday honours. Vincent O’Sullivan was the New Zealand poet laureate 2013–2015. He lives in Dunedin.