"Where Poppies Blow" is a play written by Canadian playwright Hannah Moscovitch. It tells the story of daily life during the First World War through the eyes of Gus, an 11-year-old boy living in Ottawa. His 19-year-old brother Eddy, who volun-teered for the army, is away fighting at the Front.
As the play unfolds, the audience follows Gus as he first has breakfast with his middle brother James and then visits the Ladies Knitting Regiment which is knitting socks for the soldiers
|The cast and crew of the Cairine Wilson student production of ‘Where Poppies Blow’ which is being presented in the school gymnasium on November 10 and 11. PHOTO SUPPLIED
After visiting the Ladies Knitting Regiment, he drops by the post office to mail a letter to his brother and then the local military hospital where he meets Mick who was wounded and left blind during a gas attack on the Front.
It is Mick who first opens the young boy’s eyes to the horrors of war.
After talking with Mick, Gus goes to school where he gets news about his brother.
The play serves a dual purpose. First, it sheds light on what it was like growing up in Canada during the First World War, and second, it brings that message home to a young audience through Gus’ experience.
For Cairine Wilson Secondary School drama teacher Jennifer Abma, “Where Poppies Blow” is an ideal production for her students to do in the days leading up to Remembrance Day.
Playing the lead role of Gus is Grade 12 student Evan Simcoe.
As a 17-year-old senior, the biggest challenge Simcoe faces is in convincing
the audience that he’s an 11-year-old boy.
At one point in the play, Mick the veteran asks Gus his age. When Gus says, “15”, Mick, who is blind, challenges him and he admits that he’s actually 11.
“It has been really challenging, but I have really loved the process,” says Simcoe. “And I’ve given a lot of thought to not just delivering the lines, but to how Gus looks at the world and how he walks and how he talks.”
Mick is played by Grade 12 student Simon Lee, who delivers the most poignant monologue in the play.
The job of making sure that everyone is on point, has been given to student director Avery Kaptein who won over the cast’s respect from day one of rehearsals.
The Grade 11 student is hoping that the audience comes away from the play with an understanding of how war can impact the people on the homefront even when the fighting is an ocean away.
“Hopefully (the audience) will get a sense of what it was like to live through the war, and sort of live in the shoes of an innocent young boy like Gus,” says Kaptein.
The Cairine Wilson production is being put on in the school gymnasium on Nov. 10th and 11th. Tickets are $10 for adults and $5 for students. Tickets for the Friday night production can be purchased online at https://ocdsb.schoolcashonline.com/Fee/
Tickets for Saturdays production can be purchased at ocdsb.schoolcashonline.com/Fee/Details/76602/178/False/True.