1918: Don’t Worry, Rejoice! — Dramatic Readings from the First World War
Mount Allison, Sackville community members to stage dramatic readings in honour of Remembrance Day
“1918 was a time of anxiety, hope and despair, when victory seemed so near and yet so far. The Tantramar also endured the Spanish flu pandemic.”
On Jan. 7, 1918, the Sackville Tribune reported the death of former editor David Everett Scott, who chose to forgo his officer’s stripes so he could fight at the Front.
The Tribune also published Scott’s last letter to his mother, in which he spoke of his religious faith, “doing one’s bit” as a source of pride, and the prospect of an Allied victory.
Scott’s last words to his mother, “Don’t worry, rejoice” became the title for the fifth and final event in the Tantramar-at-war series.
“1918 – Don’t Worry, Rejoice!” will be presented in the Motyer-fancy Theatre, in the Purdy Crawford Centre for the Arts on the Mount Allison University campus, on Tuesday, Nov. 6, at 7:30 p.m. and on Sunday, Nov. 11, at 3 p.m. No reservations are required and free-will donations in support of the Sackville Memorial Hospital Auxiliary will be collected at the door.
Director Alex Fancy explains that, during 75 minutes of “verbatim theatre,” readers will “channel voices of people from the Tantramar whose contributions to the war effort can still inspire us a century later.”
Four years ago, “1914: Allison- ians at War,” was intended as a single commemoration.
Will Balser, from Hillsborough, has read every year and explains why the project has continued.
“The letters and stories from the Front that appeared in the Mount Allison Argosy and the two Sackville newspapers, The Tribune and The Post, seem more real than real,” says Balser.
Later titles worked to convey what it must have been like to live through ‘the Great War’: “1915 – Sacrifice, Solidarity and Socks”; “1916 - Keep the Faith, Keep in Touch, Keep the Home Fires Burning”; and “1917 - Mud, Mayhem and Miracles”.
Liam Cole, who is from Port Elgin, has also read every year.
“It’s easy to forget that people had no idea when the war would end,” says Cole. “Most soldiers and nurses who went to war from throughout Canada passed through here on their way to troop ships in Halifax.”
Jennie Del Motte will perform war music and songs as she has done since 2014. Hannah Tuck, who first read last year, says, “Jennie’s music will entertain spectators and move them to tears.”
Speaking of the project as a learning experience, Fancy says each year seemed to have a particular tone.
“1918 was a time of anxiety, hope and despair, when victory seemed so near and yet so far,” says Fancy. “The Tantramar also endured the Spanish flu pandemic.”
The final readings celebrate the triumph of the human spirit, convey the euphoria that prevailed on the Tantramar and at Mount Allison on Nov. 11, and recount the lavish victory celebrations whose cost became a subject of concern for the Sackville Town Council.
Pictured above is a victory parade float, featuring an effigy of the Kaiser, Sackville, Nov. 11, 1918.