A Play about Remembrance
Music Director Brian Jackson
The Hurricane was dogged, masculine and its undercarriage folded inwards in a tidy business-like manner. The Spit, calling for more sensitive handling, was altogether more feminine it was said, had more glamour and threw its wheels outward in an abandoned extroverted way. It had a special beauty when it was silhouetted against the sky displaying the vaunted curves of its ellipse-shaped wings. You could dance with a Spitfire.
When the first days of the 20th century dawned, the world could not know that it stood on the eve of one of the most revolutionary moments in human history: man’s ability to fly. As the decades wore on, the history of aviation became no less than an intrinsic part of the 20th century - and in ways that were forever indelible. From peace time when the vast oceans of time immemorial suddenly became quickly navigated overhead by air, to wartime when two massive world conflicts evolved a whole new field of battle in the skies, names like Wilbur Wright, Charles Lindbergh, Billy Bishop and Antoine St. Exupery became synonymous with a revolutionary and uncharted way of viewing our world - from the air. Aviation changed forever our understanding of our planet, and our place in it. But there is a lesser known chapter in 20th century aviation history that has not yet had its story told. This new Canadian play aims to change that.
Spitfire Dance, a dramatic musical entertainment in two acts by playwright and producer Clint Ward, leads theatre audiences onto the much less-travelled road of the courageous and fascinating women who also dared fly the skies when the Wright Brothers, Billy Bishop and Lindbergh were stealing the headlines.
The play opens with maverick pilot and writer Beryl Markham who says “We began when the sky was clean and ready for the sun…” The play reveals the fascinating lives of pioneer women aviators like Markham, Amy Johnson, Amelia Earhart and Jackie Cochran. In Spitfire Dance, we enter a world where the important flying was considered to have been done by men. It was a world where hotshot Canadian pilot Helen Harrison, with more than 2000 hours in the sky – far more than most male recruits who were not required to have any flight experience – was rejected by the Royal Canadian Air Force for, as Harrison noted, “wearing a skirt.” Accompanied by well-loved Second World War era songs that lead into a rarified world, we learn the stories of these pioneer aviators—their courage, their daring and their frustrations. We learn about the price they paid when they dared to compete in that most male of establishments: aviation. But most of all, we learn about their very existence, a vibrant part of history that most of us simply do not know. And as the 100th Anniversary of The Great War and the 70th anniversary of the D-Day landings at Normandy are specially marked by memorials throughout 2014, Spitfire Dance will surely take its place among them in its celebration of the gutsy and talented women who took to the skies and also turned in their finest hour—however uncelebrated it has been until now.