I've spent the last few days trying to establish the name of the playwright who has written a one-act play which has mysteriously appeared amongst my papers.
It's a first draft with a working title The Ruin of a Good Man: The Story of Charles Mackay.
When I was talking about this with my daughter, who was raised in Whanganui, she said she knew nothing about the Charles Mackay story.
For those who don't know, Charles Mackay was a clever young man who had gained a BA degree by the age of 19 and a law degree a few years later. He came to Whanganui, established a law practice and married into a local family.
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His foray into local politics began in 1905 when he was elected to the town council.
Between 1906 to 1920 Charles was Whanganui's mayor championing the construction of the Sargeant Art Gallery with the complementary museum and library. The Dublin St Bridge was another important project supported by Charles Mackay.
Despite his far-sighted support of local growth, Charles Mackay had enemies. There were death threats which prompted him to carry a revolver for personal protection. His enemies hit on another plan. He was introduced to a young visitor to Whanganui, a handsome young fellow named Cresswell who alleged Mackay had made improper suggestions to him.
Cresswell threatened to expose Charles Mackay's homosexuality, illegal in NZ until the 1986 Homosexual Law Reform Bill was passed, unless Mackay resigned from the mayoralty. The desperate mayor shot his tormentor but didn't kill him, resulting in his conviction for attempted murder and a 15-year sentence with hard labour.
After six years Mackay was released on the condition that he left New Zealand.
Working in Berlin as a reporter for an English newspaper he was shot dead by a policeman who mistook him for a rioter. What a sad end for a far-sighted, intelligent local politician.
That is, briefly, the story of a good man and his downfall. This little one-act play illustrates it very well. Does anyone know who would have written it?