Actor Christine Willes

Actor Christine Willes

Fort Rodd play brings history to life

Kaleidoscope Theatre offers War of the Eagles, including strong aboriginal female character

Kaleidoscope Theatre will bring history to life as it takes centre stage at Fort Rodd Hill and Fisgard Lighthouse National Historic Sites for its adaptation of War of the Eagles, starting tomorrow.

Adapted from Eric Walter’s book, which can be found in many classrooms, War of the Eagles tells the story of two youth, Jed and Tadashi, living on a military base near Prince Rupert during the Second World War. As Japanese internment becomes policy the two boys are forced to confront the racism and confusion of war.

The story touches on identity, First Nations relationship to Canada, what it means to be Canadian and the emotions and fear surrounding war.

Outdoor theatre is not a new concept, but for Kaleidoscope leaving the controlled atmosphere of the theatre is a novel venture.

 

“With this story, it’s set in the environment that it reflects,” said artistic director Roderick Glanville. “Once I approached Fort Rodd and said ‘this is our idea,’ it was a perfect marriage because they’re looking to expand into more family and youth to get access to the park.”

 

Glanville adapted the novel to a play and is also directing the play, which uses seven areas of the fort.

“Some are visited a couple of times, some are visited only once,” Glanville said. “The audience experiences the play as we move through various stations that support the scene required.”

Two actors play the titular eagle, that is shot by soldiers and then nursed to health by the boys. Valerie Sing Turner, plays the eagle and also Naomi Blackburn, Jed’s mother, a First Nations woman married to a white Canadian fighter pilot. Turner, although not First Nations herself, said she is loving the opportunity to play such a strong character.

“So often we see First Nations in kind of victims, or exploited roles out there,” Turner said. “I thought it was really great to put out a different kind of role model.”

Christine Willes, a local actor who has appeared in a number of films and TV shows, said she admires the play’s handling of some of its more troubling themes.

“The kids really get a sense of the dimensions of racism, the different faces it can wear, how it can play out,” Willes said, adding that the setting of the play lends to its atmosphere.

“I thought was really brilliant to set it in a historical park,” Willes said. “There’s lots of resonance, lots of room for the imagination to expand and think and ponder about what it is to be Canadian.”

The play is appropriate for all ages and though targeted at youth, has material of interest for adults as well.

It runs Saturday and Sunday at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. Tickets are $25 for adults and $18 for youth 16 and under. They are available through the Royal McPherson box office (3 Centennial Square) or by phone at 250-386-6121.