For the centenary of the Canadian Navy this year, Vancouver-based actor/writer Julia Mackey is bringing her one-woman show to Wolfville and Nova Scotia.
Billed as an inspiring and touching piece of theatre, Jake’s Gift has toured the country for 300 performances and is currently on stage in England.
Mackey has created a play about a crusty, old Canadian World War II veteran, and an innocent little French girl who happen to meet on Juno Beach.
A funny, heartwarming show that pays tribute to the history and importance of Canada’s veterans, Jake’s Gift will be in Wolfville for one night, Sept. 14, at the Al Whittle Theatre.
In June 2004, Mackey was in Normandy for D-Day’s 60th anniversary and she attended the ceremonies as research for a script she was working on, but Mackey says she could never have predicted the deep effect the event would have on her.
“The most emotional day was going to the cemetery and seeing a lot of these guys just break down as soon as they saw a lot of their buddies – their fellow soldiers who never got to go home,” she recalled.
“I remember seeing a couple of veterans kneeling down at the site of the graves and openly weeping. For a lot of the men I met, it was the first time they had come back, and being in their 80s there was the freedom to be emotional.”During her trip to Normandy, Mackey had the chance to interview dozens of the Canadian veterans of the massive 1944 Allied invasion.“I have some of the recordings on my iPod now, and when I listen to them I think, ‘I’m basically crying for eight days.’ They end up comforting me, which was the opposite of what I wanted!” A frequent concern among the former soldiers she spoke to was that young people had no appreciation for the events or outcome of WWII. Through her solo work, Mackey attempts to help keep their memories alive.
The play will be staged at 8 p.m. and advance tickets at $15 are available at the Box of Delights. Veterans get in for $10.