Firing Lines

Edmonton’s MAA & PAA Theatre teams up with noted historian and author Debbie Marshall on a vivid, passionate new play at the Fringe. Firing Lines: Journalist Beatrice Nasmyth Covers the First World War blends Nasmyth’s articles, letters and photos with compelling performances to bring the Great War vividly to life.

Now that Canadian troops are withdrawing from combat in Afghanistan, and ongoing battles in Libya are making us reconsider our military role in the world, there is no better time to consider Canada’s first war, a war in which a generation proved that we could stand with the best forces in the world, and had a place in post-war peace and reconstruction. Through Beatrice Nasmyth’s eyes, we see how that war radically transformed the lives of individuals and nations.

In 1914, Nasmyth was assistant women’s editor at the Vancouver Province. When war was imminent, she jumped at the chance to go overseas and cover it from the ―women’s perspective.‖ It wouldn’t be easy. Her paper only paid her by the article—she had to find a full time job to support herself while hunting up stories. Nasmyth not only found paid work, she wrote over 100 feature articles and made history as one of the first female journalists from Canada to be allowed into France during the war.

Over twenty of Nasmyth’s wartime letters home have been preserved by her daughter, along with most of the articles she wrote for the Province. They reveal what life was like, not only for the soldiers who fought the war, but for those who struggled to survive at home. Firing Lines is based on this precious archive.

Firing Lines features Jenny McKillop, Randy Brososky and Heather Swain. Production design is by Nicole Deibert, and costume design by Geri Dittrich. The play is directed by David Cheoros, with additional dramaturgy by Karen Simonson. Firing Lines is presented in partnership with the Provincial Archives of Alberta.

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