It’s been 100 years since the end of the First World War.
Looking back, it was a time of great achievements for Canadian soldiers on battlefields such as Ypres and Vimy.
It was also a time of great loss.
The War Museum of Canada reports that close to 61,000 Canadians were killed during the war and another 172,000 were wounded.
In Canada’s smallest province, 503 soldiers were killed and more than 1,000 were wounded. The loss turned to sorrow as Canadian families said goodbye to their loved ones.
Against this poignant backdrop, Canadian playwright Stephen Massicotte wrote “Mary’s Wedding.” Described as a “memorial to both the great war and great love” the work is currently being produced by Sandstone Theatre Company, starring Adam Gauthier and Jenna Marie.
“It’s a beautiful play with an educational component to it. And the chemistry between Jenna and Adam is a joy to watch,” says Paul Whelan, director of the production that hits the boards of the Watermark Theatre in North Rustico from Oct. 24- 27 at 7:30 p.m.
At its heart, it’s a love story.
On the night before her wedding, Mary dreams of a thunderstorm, during which she unexpectedly meets Charlie sheltering in a barn beside his horse. With innocence and humour, the two discover a charming first love. But the year is 1914, and the world is collapsing into a brutal war. Together, they attempt to hide their love, galloping through the fields for a place and time where the tumultuous uncertainties of battle can’t find them.
“The show looks at being in love for the first time and how real-world events and horrors can occur and really tear people apart and, of course, the longing for (the lovers) to get back together again,” says Gauthier, who plays Charlie, a young farmer working at his father’s horse ranch in Western Canada.
“He’s always wanted to join the cavalry. So, when the war comes up, he enlists, to fight for Canada. He hopes he will be able to join the cavalry and avoid the trenches, all together.”
But, there’s a difference between his idea of what the war would be like and what actually takes place. “Whenever he gets over there, he experiences the horrors of war and he longs to get back home to Mary,” says Gauthier.
The play also gives the female perspective.
“It describes what their wives and girlfriends went through as they waited for their men to come back from the war…You couldn’t really text them,” says Jenna Marie, who plays Mary.
She likes how the well-written play transports audience members back to another time.
“It’s definitely a throwback. And it’s very informative. The text in the show does paint a beautiful picture of scenery and the time, back then, as well as the war and the horrific events that happened.”
The play has been on Gauthier’s mind ever since he discovered it a couple of years ago.
“I’ve always had an interest in the First World War and Canada’s contribution to it. And I’ve actually taught courses in it. So, when I came across it, I had a really high interest in doing it. And, of course, with this being the 100th anniversary of the First World War, I thought it would be a great opportunity.”
If you are going
What: “Mary’s Wedding”
When and where: Oct. 24-27, 7:30 p.m., Watermark Theatre, North Rustico.
Who: Directed by Paul Whelan, stage managed by Wallena Higgins, and produced by Grace Kimpinski.
Support: Department of Veterans Affairs supported this project.