Cultural destination group’s events reflect on significant war milestone

Frank Gale
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Actor Fred Cluett is seen in a rehearsal in Blanche Brook Park in Stephenville preparing for his role of Grandfather Hynes in “The March of the Blue Puttees.”

Fred Cluett found it easy getting into the role of Grandfather Hynes, the character he plays in an outdoor performance entitled “The March of the Blue Puttees.”

As the grandfather of a Blue Puttee who is supportive of the war effort, Grandfather Hynes describes how he copes with the absence of his grandson who’s gone off to war. It’s a difficult time for someone Grandfather Hynes’ age.

“The March of the Blue Puttees” is one of four events being presented Aug. 2-4 by Stephenville Cultural Destination, which is focusing on the 100th anniversary of the start of the First World War.

It all starts off with a dinner theatre entitled “Memories of the Great War” at Days Inn in Stephenville at 7 p.m. this Saturday.

The play, produced by Don Gale and directed by Jerry Doyle of 2nd Stage Players, features a veteran of the Great War reflecting on his experiences in the trenches. The production highlights the conflicting thoughts and emotions of the fighting men on both sides. The soldiers all realize that war is complex, terrifying and life-changing — so different from the ideas of war that are promoted by governments and recruiting efforts.

“The March of the Blue Puttees” takes place from 2-4 p.m. in Blanche Brook Park on Sunday, and features five different characters in different locations around the park. Each has a story to tell about what they went through during the First World War.

Cluett said each piece is five to six minutes long and features the fictional characters of Mrs. Rogerson, played by Gina McArthur; Germaine White as Grandmother Skinner; Young Gallant, portrayed by Josh Simms; Mary Hynes as Jim’s wife; and Cluett’s role of Grandfather Hynes.

Cluett wrote the part for his own character, while he shared in the writing of some of the other roles with Don Gale.

While the Blue Puttees were fighting the war on foreign soil, the family and community members who were left behind struggled through their own personal conflicts, knowing war was changing their lives at home.

“We wanted to do this somewhere in Stephenville, so why not in the beautiful setting of Blanche Brook Park?” Cluett asked.

Monday, which is a civic holiday in Stephenville, a commemorative service recognizing the First World War 100th anniversary will take place at 10:45 a.m. at the Cenotaph.

Monday at 9 p.m., there will be a performance entitled “The Harmonettes” at the Royal Canadian Legion, Branch 25 in Stephenville. This is a United States Overseas (USO) style show produced by Jean House, featuring a medley of tunes from the First World War, the Second World War and the big band era.

Tickets for the “USO Show” and “The March of the Blue Puttees” are available at Debbie’s Video and Shamrock Crafts, or by calling 649-2038. Tickets for the “Memories of the Great War” dinner theatre are available at Days Inn or by calling 643-6666.

Organizations: Days Inn, Royal Canadian Legion, Jean House

Geographic location: Blanche Brook Park, Stephenville

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