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Wednesday, 21 November 2012 14:20

Jake's Gift presented at Lyric Theatre this weekend

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Swift Current residents have a chance to look back on some of the sacrifices made by war veterans during a special presentation of Jake's Gift at the Lyric Theatre this weekend. With showings on Saturday, Sunday, and Monday, there will be plenty of opportunities to take in this multi award-winning theatre performance.


“It all came out of a trip I took to Normandy, France, for the 60th anniversary of D-Day in 2004,” explained writer and actor Julia Mackey, who has been performing the piece since January of 2007. “I had been working on a script about people from the war, and I felt like my character needed to be expanded a bit. So I learned about the anniversary and called Veteran's Affairs to get my name on the list.”


After spending a week walking the beaches of Normandy, interviewing veterans, and taking in ceremonies, Mackey felt more prepared to work on her play. However, she had anticipated being able to write while in Normandy, but the overwhelming emotion she felt prevented her from starting her piece until she returned to Canada.


“I started working on some initial ideas as soon as I got back, but I ended up getting involved with another project and put it on hold until 2006,” she admitted. “I came back to it seriously in June of 2006, and spent the fall tweaking changes in the first draft. By December, I was happy with it, and in January, we did our first performance.”


Since that time, Mackey has performed Jake's Gift over 600 times. Although the script has remained virtually the same, the story has developed over the years.


“All I wanted to do was share this incredible emotional experience, which made me really appreciate what it means to live in this country, and the sacrifices that our soldiers have made over the past 100 years and more,” she explained. “Almost 45,000 Canadian soldiers were killed in the WWII, and 65,000 in the first. There are so many Canadian graves in France, and it's such a sobering experience. I felt compelled to share it with other people.”


Although the play's timeline is in June, since veterans and Remembrance Day are on the minds of Canadians this time of year, Mackey noted that is does hold an additional layer of importance in November. She hopes that it encourages the audience to reflect on how their lives and families have been impacted by war.


“People tell me that from their experience watching the play, they are surprised at how patriotic they feel afterward,” said Mackey. “That's amazing to me, because I really don't intend it as a flag-waving kind of show. I just think a lot of people aren't really aware of what happened at that time, and this storyline between a young French girl and a Canadian soldier helps them see how much the French people appreciate their liberation to this day, even 70 years later.”


Jake's Gift will be presented at the Lyric Theatre on Nov. 24 at 8pm, Nov. 25 at 2pm, and Nov. 26 at 8pm. Tickets are only $15 and are available at Pharmasave.

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Jessi Gowan