Jake’s Gift celebrates 10-year anniversary
In the upcoming Capitol production of Jake’s Gift, actress Julia Mackey will play both an 80-year-old Canadian D-Day veteran and an innocent young Normandy girl named Isabelle.
“This whole play came out of my own experience of going to Normandy for the 60th anniversary of D-Day,” Mackey told the Star. She has been performing the show since 2007.
“I was so moved by the French people who, even 60 years later, are so thankful for that liberation. The Canadian veterans are treated with so much respect, and the students in France are so well educated because people like their grandmothers have done such a good job of relaying that history.”
Mackey interviewed a number of Canadian, British and American World War II veterans while she was writing the show, and it aims to keep their memories alive. She recently learned how to perform it in French, and performed it right on Juno Beach.
“People love these two characters, because everyone seems to either have an Isabelle or a Jake in their lives. And when people come to the show, their stories seem to just come out. We love hearing the stories of people who have their own Jake.”
For the show, Mackey actually transitions between four different characters. The show takes place over the course of three days, as Jake and Isabelle meet at the beach and at different ceremonies marking the 60th anniversary of D-Day.
It’s a drama, but has “raindrops of comedy” throughout.
“For many people this is a very emotional topic, and it’s definitely a drama, but there’s little pockets of comedy that come from the fact that these are two people who say what they want, when they want.”
And the play centres around how they play off each other.
“Jake is coming back to Normandy to find his brother’s grave, and then he meets Isabelle. The title encompasses both the gift of friendship, and how we help each other get through difficult times, as well as the gift he gave in choosing to serve his country.”
Ultimately, Isabelle offers her own gift: she promises to remember the sacrifices he made.
After the performance a print of the painting “Fallen Hero” by Sooke artist Steve Robertson will be donated to the Nelson Legion as part of a larger initiative from the Canadian Fallen Heroes Foundation that aims to create a memorial plaque for every Canadian soldier who has served from the Boer War to Afghanistan.
“It’s an image of a veteran sitting in front of someone’s grave, with a little girl comforting him, and that’s one of the pinnacle scenes in my show where Isabelle is encouraging Jake to gave this graveside conversation with his brother, apologizing for not coming to visit sooner.”
The show is appropriate for ages 10 and up, and is approximately an hour long. It will be performed this Friday at 8 p.m. at the Capitol Theatre.