A poignant story of love, loss and post-war survival comes to the Kelowna stage for three days this November.
Liberation Days, written by Calgary playwright David van Belle, revisits Canadian soldiers’ liberation of the Netherlands’ from years of Nazi occupation during the Second World War.
In the weeks that follow, a Dutch woman and Canadian soldier fall in love and try to forge a new life together despite both having pasts that desperately want them back.
“It is a love story and a story of survival and how people persevere when they have lost everything,” says Bonnie Gratz, New Vintage Theatre’s artistic director.
Emma and her mother have sold everything, have gone hungry, have seen others ally themselves with the Germans just to survive.
When the liberators arrive, “there’s a strong kinship, of course, but for some, also a little animosity,” Gratz says, explaining that while the Canadians bring a “bright, shining hope” to many, for others, they also highlight everything that has been lost.
Performed across Canada, the play’s Kelowna premiere is timely as the Okanagan prepares to mark Remembrance Day, Gratz says, noting some of those liberating soldiers would have hailed from the region.
“It’s our story – it’s a Canadian story – and that makes it even more meaningful, I think.”
Message remains meaningful today
While a poignant piece of history, Liberation Days has much to say about Canada’s continued efforts in the world, and how globally we all continue to need each other, Gratz suggests.
“When we think of war, we often think of a set number of years … but we don’t always think about the after-effects. The experience shapes their lives in both positive and negative ways and it shapes who they become,” she reflects, suggesting that a commitment to rebuilding after conflict – to understanding the human cost – is vital. “It’s the investment Canada is making to make sure countries and their people are built up for the future.”
Complementing the on-stage performances, New Vintage Theatre has also partnered with the Kelowna Museums, which will bring a variety of related displays to the lobby, and the Kelowna-Veendam Sister City Association, which supports cultural exchange between the Okanagan and the Netherlands, in recognition of the role played by Kelowna troops in the liberation of Holland.
Tickets and details
Tickets for this beautiful tale of humanity and hope are $25 adults, $20 students, seniors and members, and $15 veterans. The minimum age is 12 years.
Purchase tickets online, or call the Rotary Centre for the Arts box office at 250-717-5304.