Throughout history, the arts have helped shape society’s understanding of self. The end of each of the World Wars created a cauldron for changing—or shaping—identities. As we are on the brink of losing the last of the World War I generation, we are faced again with a period of changing identities. We are moving from a period of living to archival history. How will we remember the past? Although Canada continues to be part of the Dominion and fought alongside England during both World Wars, these two countries experienced war very differently. For Canada, World War I was about proving itself as a new country and shaping national identity. For England, it was about demonstrating its power and performing its imperialist identity. These different voices—the colonial voice of Canada and the Imperialist voice of England—are clearly evident in the theatre written about how these two countries experienced World War I. This paper focuses on one play from Canada—Vern Thiessen's "Vimy"—in order to demonstrate how theatre can illustrate national identity and can serve as a collective memory for World War I.
|Keywords:||World War, Collective Memory, Conscience, Theatre, Memorializing|
Graduate MFA Student, Department of Theater, University of Massachusetts, Amherst, MA, USA