Vimy by Vern Thiessen
Arts and Culture Center - Barbara Barrett Theatre - November 11-15, 2014
France, 1917. Aided by a nurse from Nova Scotia, four wounded Canadian soldiers recover in a field hospital in the wake of the Battle of Vimy Ridge. Governor General's Literary Award winner Vern Thiessen explores how a nation's defining moment is reflected in the lives of everyday people, their hopes and their dreams. Join us in an act of remembrance this November.
Background Information - Battle of Vimy Ridge.
Vimy is a farming community located in northern France about 175 kilometers north of Paris and is situated on a long, high ridge known as Vimy Ridge. Spanning seven miles across and rising four hundred feet, Germany captured this ridge at the beginning of World War One, and transformed it into a strong and fortified defensive position with a complex and intricate system of trenches and tunnels. A mound on top of the ridge was turned into a fortified knoll which was referred to by the Allied Forces as "The Pimple".
Because Canada was part of the British Empire, once Britain declared war on Germany on August 4th, 1914, the country was inevitably at war with Germany as part of the Allied Forces (Britain, France and Russia and, in 1917, the USA) fighting against the Central Powers (Germany, Austria-Hungary, the Ottoman Empire and Bulgaria).
The Canadian Corps, as part of the allied offensive, was ordered to attack and seize the escarpment from the Germans on April 9th, 2017. Canadian Corps General Sir Arthur William Currie was a firm believer in preparation and groundwork and knew there were lessons to be learned from the stalemated Battle of the Somme. After travelling to Verdun to interview French officers who fought in the battle, he developed a series of points he believed would be vital to the taking of Vimy Ridge such as aerial surveillance, large-scale models of the battlefield and the creation of a light-weight railway system.
No detail in the battle plan was forgotten as a full-scale model of the Ridge was constructed months in advance of the attack so the Canadians soldiers could practice and perfect the plan. The soldiers also had to perfect the "Creeping Barrage" - a slow glide that would allow the soldiers to cross no man's land - advancing 100 yards every 3 minutes just behind the artillery aimed at the Germans or the Huns as they were derogatively referred to during the war.
In each of their sectors, the final attack plan gave each of the four divisions of the Canadian Corps its own advancement objective on the four German lines of defense identified by coloured lines: (1) Black, (2) Blue (3) Brown and (4) Red.
- 1st Division: Advance across the German forward defensive line.
- 2nd Division: Gain control of the town of Thélus and the woods outside the town of Vimy.
- 3rd Division: Capture the Zwölfer-Graben trench and the German second line.
- 4th Division: Attack the fortified stronghold called "The Pimple", the Folie Farm, the Zwischen-Stellung trench and the hamlet of Les Tilleuls.
Under the command of Currie, every soldier was completely trained in the mission objectives so, in the event of an officer's death, he could take command of his platoon. Tunnels were dug that Canadian soldiers could move as close as possible to the German lines before the start of the attack and bombs were set under German strongpoints.
Zero hour - Easter Monday, April 9, 1917 - 5:30am.
In just several hours, the four divisions of the Canadian Corps did what the British and French armies failed to do in two and one-half years of fighting. Known as the Battle of Vimy Ridge, it ended on April 12th, 1917 with a Canadian victory that came at a heavy price as 3,598 Canadian soldiers were killed and another 7,000 wounded.
2015 Provincial Drama Festival Awards
- Honorary Chairman's Award for the best performance by a man - Chris Bishop as Will
- Allan R. Hillier Award for costume that most enhances interpretation of overall production - Sarah Carter, Sandi Mercer & Eileen Doyle
- Allan Power Memorial Award for excellence in lighting design - Jamie Skidmore
- D.A. Matthews Memorial Scholarship - Stephanie Curran
- Transcontinental Media Scholarship Award - Beth Sparkes Dawe
- Clare - Catherine Torraville
- Will - Chris Bishop
- Sid - Josh Collier
- Jean-Paul - Jeremy Monette
- Bert - Kody McGrath
- Mike - Justin Sellers
- Claude - Mike Vokey
- Laurie - Chris Dunn
- Director - Louise Kearley
- Producer - Jim Healey
- Stage Manager - Sandi Mills
- Technical Stage Manager - Stephanie Curran
- Costumes - Sarah Carter
- Props/Set - Howard Cheeseman, Eileen Doyle & Michael O'Keefe
- Set Construction - Freeman Mercer
- Lighting Design - Tracie Burgess
- Sound Design - Beth Sparkes-Dawe
- Publicity - Shirley Sellars
- Hairstylist - Kim Fiander
- Poster Design - David Sturge
NL 2015 Drama Festival Award Winners - Front: Eileen Doyle, Sandi Mercer & Sarah Carter.
Back: Jamie Skidmore, Chris Bishop & Beth Sparkes Dawe. TC Media photo.