The other side of the story

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AN historical play touring the country this month is taking Kiwi knowledge of the 1953 Everest expedition to new heights.
Written by Gareth Davies and produced by Ffynroc Productions, Everest Untold is touring with Arts On Tour New Zealand and will be performed in Invercargill next Friday.
Featuring Stephen Lovatt as expedition leader Sir John Hunt and Edwin Wright as ‘the other Kiwi’ George Lowe, Everest Untold ‘‘gives a perspective of what happened with Mt Everest beyond Ed Hillary and Sherpa Tenzing’’, Davies said.
‘‘I think it’s a play that New Zealanders should go and see.’’
Born in Wales a few months before Everest was climbed, Davies said he had always had an interest in the record-breaking event and, having lived in New Zealand for the past 33 years, was well aware of Hillary’s legendary status.
He was inspired to write the play in 2014 after hearing a talk by Huw Lewis-Jones at the Hay-On-Wye literary festival in Wales.
Davies said the author had collaborated with Lowe to publish the photographs Lowe had taken on Everest.
‘‘I remember thinking ‘gee, so there was another New Zealander there apart from Ed Hillary’?’’
Davies said he initially wrote it as a one-person play, however, he wanted to add a bit more tension so brought in English expedition leader Sir John Hunt as a second character.
‘‘[Hunt] was very famous when I was a young kid, but seems to have been forgotten by history now. So I felt it was a good mix to have an older Englishman and a younger Kiwi sort of larrikin, and play the two off against one another.’’
Davies said there was an amazing amount of research material available to bring the story together.
‘‘I was able to go to the original source. Everybody who climbed [Everest] wrote a book, more or less.’’
His research uncovered the massive team effort, he said, which many people had forgotten about in the wake of Hillary’s great achievement.
‘‘The story had a lot more twists and turns to it than people now imagine, so I brought a lot of those in.’’
Davies said he wanted to encapsulate a story which was dramatic, featured revelations and was also very interesting.
‘‘I’m really pleased that people in New Zealand are actually going to learn more about George Lowe. He deserves to be more recognised than he has been today.’’
Í Everest Untold, presented by The House Series, Repertory House, Invercargill, Friday, July 29, 7.30pm. Tickets from eventfinda.co.nz.
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