More-Til The Boys Come Home

Charles Robertson on writing Til The Boys Come Home

It started as a drama class exercise. I had a lot of boys and they averaged 11-12 years of age so I thought doing work on the Second World War would be appropriate. They came up with improvized scnes which I turned into a script for them. I decided to add to it and make it a mainstage show because the story was actually quite powerful. I wanted a production which had the essential elements of the Second World War, the innocence of teenagers in small-town Canada. The Soda Shop where they congregated, the waitress with a reputation, the gang of kids, the bookish outsider. Using Second World War pop culture of the time to provide a backdrop for the dramatic action shows the young people's zest for life and emphasizes the huge cost involved in fighting evil. Spring romances become bittersweet lonely winters. Many volunteers were baby-faced kids who grew up in a traumatic environment. Perhaps the play is a little like Romeo and Juliet, in that it has the playfulness of tghe young people at the beginning, followed by a dance. Tragedy happens in the barracks. A climatic battle scene changes everryone's lives forever, the young men on the battlefield and the girls they left behind.

CKWS News clip of Til the Boys Come Home

What happens in Til The Boys Come Home

The Beginning

A group of young people have gathered at Pete's Soda Shop on a sunny Saturday afternoon in a small town in Canada. War clouds are gathering on the horizon. Pete runs the Soda Shop and the kids tease him about the quality of the food he serves. Easy Alex the waitress has a reputation for liking the boys. Jimmy is the self-appointed leader of the gang of teens. Will is the narrator of the play. We see everything develop through his eyes. He is an everyman without great bravery or dreams. He wants to marry his highschool sweetheart and take over his dad's general store. Tony is the jokestar who is always trying to make people laugh. He has a crush on Christine who won't give him the time of day. Ralphie is the gang's mascot, a very immature boy who dreams of getting a bunch of medals fighting the germans. Joe is the bookish outsider who the gang likes to pick on. He has a quiet way about him which belies his great courage and idealism. The waitress Alex is developing feelings for him. The local tough, a guy by the name of Troy has attracted the attention of the daughter of a local fsctory owner.

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The Barracks

When a recruiter comes to town, most of the kids are excited to join up with romantic dreams of ending the war single-handedly. The barracks scene is a shock as these greenhorns learn about working as a team and those that can't or won't join the team are punsished. Loyalties switch quickly and tragedy occurs.

The Dance

There is a dance before the new soldiers ship out and it is bittersweet. Some of these boys will not be coming back. The boys that do come back will be coming back as young men, forever changd by their experiences.

The Battle

The scene in Europe has to do with the young men coping with boredom by playing cards, complaining about the food, and discussing what to do when they get back home, when they get out of the army. Will wants to run the general store marry his highschool sweetheart. Tony wants to become a magician and marry Chritine. Jimmy is bitter and pokes holes in his friends dreams. Joe wants to be a doctor, to save lives. Troy wants to stay in the army. He has found something worthwhile in this brotherhood. Out of the blue, a brutal firefight erupts. Extreme bravery and paralyzing cowardice reflect the various experiences of young men in any battle. Medals are given out to the brave that sacrifice for their fellow soldiers. Not every soldier is a hero. Not every soldier will come home and often the soldiers that do come home bear physical and emotional scars that we as a community need to address. They sacrifice for us and we need to offer them our support after the guns have stopped firing.



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