My Grandfather's Great War
This article is from 2009.
The epithet 'those who do not remember the past are condemned to repeat it' must seem particularly prescient to Cameron Stewart. The actor is starring in a piece of documentary theatre taken, like many other big Fringe shows over the last few years, from a first-hand account of war written by a young soldier. The war in question, though, happened almost 100 years ago.
'My grandfather’s First World War diaries had been sitting on family bookshelves for 80 years,' he says. 'My uncle had tried to get them published, but had had no success. He was despondent, because Grandpa’s story was an astonishing one.'
Captain Alexander Stewart was the only officer of his intake to survive the Somme. His grandson's show contrasts his frank descriptions of trench life – and death – with contemporary notions about war and patriotism.
'The play is intended to stimulate people to think about the values that drive societies to wage war, and individuals to take part. I have immense admiration for my grandfather, but the whole concept of war seems to me abhorrent.'
Gilded Balloon Teviot, 622 6552, 8–16 Aug, 1.15pm, £10–£11 (£9–£10).