Jake’s Gift ‘suprisingly funny’

Story of war vet written after visit Normandy

Julia Mackey has spent the last few years traveling the country, telling a story of Canadian heroes.

And she’ll be in Harrison Hot Springs next, to perform her award-winning production of Jake’s Gift.

The play is 60 minutes in length and will be followed by a discussion with Mackey, who is both the playwright and sole actor in her tribute to our nation’s soldiers.

Jake’s Gift is presented by the Harrison Festival Society, calling it a “surprisingly funny drama that tells the story of a Canadian World War II veteran who reluctantly returns to Normandy, France for the 60th anniversary of D-Day.”

Mackey’s project began in 2004, when she traveled to Normandy for the 60th anniversary of that fateful day. During her eight-day journey, Mackey interviewed dozens of Canadian, British and American veterans who had returned for the ceremonies. The stories they shared with Julia and her own life-long interest in the war inspired the development of the play. Mackey wrote the play and is the only actor, playing all four characters.

The play tells the story of Jake, the Canadian veteran who reluctantly returns to Normandy. While revisiting the beach he landed on 60 years earlier, Jake encounters Isabelle, a precocious 10-year-old from the local village whose inquisitive nature and charm challenge the old soldier to confront some long-ignored ghosts — most notably, the war-time death of his eldest brother.

Julia Mackey was born into an active theatre family in Birmingham, England. When she was three years old her family immigrated to Canada. After completing a Bachelor of Education degree at McGill University in Montreal she moved to Victoria to pursue theatre.

In 1994, Julia started training with ground-breaking director and Ryerson University Alumnus, Robert Osborne. In 1995, she met the founders of Theatre SKAM and began writing and performing short plays for their acclaimed show, 29 Plays in 59 Minutes. Since 1997, Julia has worked as a professional actor in theatres across Canada.

In June 2009, she was nominated for Outstanding Performance by an Actress in a Lead Role at Vancouver’s Jessie Richardson Theatre Awards for her multi-character work in Jake’s Gift, which was part of the Vancouver East Cultural Centre’s 35th Anniversary Season.

Julia currently lives in Vancouver, BC with her partner, Dirk van Stralen, an award-winning cartoonist, illustrator, actor, graphic designer, and the director of Jake’s Gift.

Tickets are $20 for general admission, $18 for seniors.

For more information, or to purchase tickets, visit www.harrisonfestival.com or phone 604-796-3664. To learn more about the play, including Mackey’s related high school lesson plan, visit www.jakesgift.com.