The Winslow Boy

A drama by Terrence Rattigan

Directed by Tom Mackan
Produced by Michelle Spanik

It is 1912 in England. The government strains to introduce far-reaching social legislation to heavy opposition, women struggle for the basic right to vote, Ireland’s revolutionary fuse burns menacingly, the German war mongerers rattle their sabres, and Ronnie Winslow, just 14, a cadet at the Royal Naval College, Osborne, in 1912, is accused by his superiors of stealing a five shilling postal order and is sent home in disgrace. The Winslows are so ordinary a British family, you look up ordinary in the dictionary, there they are. But in the common ordinariness of their father, Arthur Winslow, burning like a pilot light, a sense of justice abides. Stirred, he begins a journey to see that wrong is righted, a journey that almost ruins his family and his health, and eventually leads him to face choices he never dreamt would arise.  Terence Rattigan bases his story on a real event of that period. He reconstitutes the tale but the essential facts remain: A government is brought almost to a standstill, a whole nation is transfixed, and the Crown itself is brought to trial. And all is told as a simple story of an ordinary family doing what ordinary families do in the face of dramatic conflicts… live their lives and trust that right will be done. This play, written in 1946,   is considered by many to be one of centuries finest achievements by an extraordinarily skilled writer.  Burlington Little Theatre is proud to be giving it its area premier.

Production Dates: Winter 2000 (specific show dates unknown)

Ronnie … Julian Frid
Violet … Helen Bell
Arthur Winslow  … David Elstub
Grace Winslow  … Jo Skilton
Dickie Winslow  … Matthew Willson
Catherine Winslow  … Dia Frid
John Watherstone … Peter Churey
Desmond Curry … Peter Mackie
Miss Barnes … Laurie Kortschak
Fred, the photographer … Shaun Dafoe
Sir Robert Morton … Ian MacPherson

Julian Frid (Ronnie Winslow):  This is Julian’s first production with BLT and he is honoured to tackle the role of The Winslow Boy.  His previous credits include Douglas in the Hamilton Players’ Guild production of Shadowlands, and three consecutive seasons as the Delivery Boy in FanFare Theatrical Productions’ Mr. Scrooge.  Julian takes acting classes at the Creative Theatre Company and wishes to thank his coaches, Jen and Claudette, for always being so supportive.  And oh yes – It’s kind of fun acting with his mum.

Helen Bell (Violet):  BLT welcomes Helen back after an absence of several years. Some may remember her in such productions as Oh What a Lovely War, On Golden Pond,Nellie McClung and many more. Over the years she has been active with H.T.I., The Hamilton Players Guild, and Stagecraft in Oakville. She says she is in semi-retirement but time will tell.

David Elstub (Arthur Winslow):  David took up acting five years ago with the Oakville Players, where he had roles in two full-length and two One-act plays. Then, for BLT, he appeared as ‘Captain Hastings’ in Black Coffee and ‘Dr. Sloper’ in The Heiress, in which role he was nominated for best actor at the Western Ontario Drama League festival.  In the past year, he had the lead in a wild farce at Bramalea Little Theatre, UTBU, and appeared in two murder mysteries at The Hamilton Players Guild.  David is more than happy to return to BLT, especially in this play and with this cast and crew.

Jo Skilton (Grace Winslow):  Jo is delighted to be making her debut with BLT in this beautiful Rattigan play.  Trained in England, she has appeared the theatre in the UK, USA and Canada for over thirty years. Best known to local audiences at The Hamilton Players Guild, where she first appeared as Candida with Tom Mackan in 1979. Favourite lead roles include ‘Helene’ in 84 Charing Cross Road, Mother Courage, and ‘Kate’ in Dancing at Lughnasa. Other credits include Cloud 9 with McMaster Dramatic Arts, and a gender-bending performance as ‘Sir Andrew Aguecheek’ in Twelfth Night in Dundas.  Jo has also directed and recently, stage-managed for Dundas Little Theatre.

Matthew Willson (Dickie Winslow):  Matthew comes to with BLT for the first time after an already busy season on the local theatre scene.  As ‘King Charles VII’ in The Lark with Dundas Little Theatre followed by Frank the Bell Hop in Lend Me a Tenor with the Hamilton Players. Matthew is pleased to be working with this talented group of people.

Dia Frid (Catherine Winslow):  Burlington audiences might recognize Dia from previous productions: Letter from the General, Enemy of the People, Summertree, As You Like It and The Aching Heart of Samuel Kleinerman.  She also directed their award winning production of The Importance of Being Earnest in 1995.  She has directed over two-dozen plays, specializing primarily in the classics.  Dia is delighted to have this chance to work with Tom once again and thanks him for the opportunity of working with her son, Julian.

Peter Churey (John Watherstone):  Peter began in the BLT workshop classes in 1994 and has since been involved in such BLT productions as Robin Hood, Arsenic and Old Lace, Goodnight, Desdemona (Good Morning, Juliet) and as ‘Bill’ in last year’s festival entry Toronto, Mississippi (which earned Peter a Best Actor nomination at the Western Ontario Drama League Festival).  He also played the part of ‘Motel’ in the Drury Lane Theatrical Productions’ Fiddler on the Roof and currently, along with his wife, handles the daunting task of publicity for BLT.

Peter Mackie (Desmond Curry):  Since he last appeared on the BLT stage in Summertree, Peter has been very busy in the local theatre scene: directing Homeward Bound and The Effect of Gamma Rays on Man-in-the-Moon Marigolds, and acting in Oliver, Shadowlands, The Madness of King George and most recently as the inquisitor in The Lark.  He is delighted to be back at Burlington under the TLC of Uncle Tom.

Laurie Kortschak (Miss Barnes):  Laurie has been with BLT since 1996 and has appeared in a number of productions.  She was honoured with awards both at BLT and WODL for her roles in the last three productions.  She was most recently seen as ‘Maddie’ in last years festival entry Toronto, Mississippi for which she received best supporting actress at BLT.  Laurie is thrilled to be working with Tom again and hopes to bring to Miss Barnes the character she deserves.

Shaun Dafoe (Fred, the photographer):  Shaun has been involved with BLT over the past few years, starting in the workshop program where he received the Costley Workshop award. He has been in several productions here at BLT including Arsenic and Old Lace, Pinocchio and most recently in The Wizard of Oz.  Shaun is pleased to be a member of this fine cast, and looks forward to a great run.

Ian MacPherson (Sir Robert Morton):  This past year has certainly proven a busy one for Ian. Our new President just finished directing BLT’s highly successful production of Brighton Beach Memoirs, after earning several awards last season for both acting (The Wizard of Oz and Loot) and directing (Toronto, Mississippi).  Ian is delighted to finally be working with Tom Mackan, a director for whom he has a great deal of respect.  He is excited about the high level of experience and expertise in this powerful cast.

Tom Mackan (Director):  Tom was last at BLT to direct The Heiress for the 1997/1998 season. Before that, his BLT credits include Not About Heroes (1990), A Letter form the General (1992), An Enemy of the People (1994), and Summertree (1996).  He has directed for other area groups as well, including Dundas Little Theatre and the Hamilton Players’ Guild. “I feel quite grateful to Burlington Little Theatre this year” he says, “for allowing me to bring one of my favourite plays, The Winslow Boy, to the stage here.”

Michelle (Semeniuk) Spanik (Producer):  Michelle has been involved with BLT for over 10 years.  She has been involved with all aspects of backstage work from producing to front of house. Her credits as producer include, A Letter From the General, An Enemy of the People, The Importance of Being Earnest and most recently The Heiress which received WODL festival’s Best Production award.  Michelle is once again pleased to be working with Tom and the talented cast and crew of The Winslow Boy.

Director’s Notes
Terence Rattigan’ s well-crafted and eminently stage-able plays went out of style after the rise of the “Kitchen Sink” dramas of the 50’s and 60’s.  His stories of sensitive conflict among the middle-classes lost favour as the demand for more brutal confrontations and their attendant requirements for street language increased.  The taste for the tasteful, you might say, waned, and that is the way things go.  Character-driven stories fell into the shade of plot and situation experiment and sensation.  It is our hope tonight that you will rediscover ordinary people who, faced with extraordinary difficulties, bring their character to bear.  With nothing more violent nor sensational that heart and determination, the Winslows rise above arrogant, blind, and heavy-handed bureaucracy to right a basic wrong.  The family suffers wounds, certainly, as they must, but their survival is a quiet triumph. TM

(The Winslow Boy is based on actual events. Rattigan changed the names and re-created the events and the players)