In WW2, women became mechanics at British Commonwealth Air Training Plan Schools all over Canada. Ethel, a southern Alberta farm girl, chases dreams of being a pilot while finding friendship and romance in the (mostly) true story.
Genre: Dramatic comedy
Time: 55 – 75 minutes. We have used the “strike out” feature to show which scenes or portions of scenes are optional in order to bring the play to under one hour.
Characters: 2 female, 1 male (doubling)
A minimum of three performers are needed: one female to play only the main character, Ethel, at all stages of life; one female to play Vi and the other female characters; and one male to play S/L WATTS, Ray and the other male characters.
Setting & Timeline:
Scene 1 2001, Alberta Aviation Museum, Edmonton, Alberta
Scene 2 Mid-1941, Farm in Stavely, Alberta
Scene 3 Early-1943, Calgary Cinema
Scene 4-10 Early-1943 to Late-1944, BCATP #31 Elementary Flying Training School, De Winton, Alberta
Scene 11a Mid-1944, Farm in Stavely, Alberta
Scene 11b-15 Late-1944, BCATP #31 E.F.T.S., De Winton, Alberta
Scene 16 2001, Alberta Aviation Museum, Edmonton, Alberta
The stories are true. Most happened to Ethel, and if not her, to someone she knew. The timeline in the play is a bit longer than Ethel’s actual time at No. 31 E.F.T.S. De Winton (July 1943 – August 1944) and some stories happened in a different order than what is presented.
The names of the L.A.C.’s are authentic, either from Ethel’s memories and photo albums, from “Daily Diary of No. 31 E.F.T.S.” (“From the collection in the National Archives of Canada and as reproduced by Timothy Allan Johnston of JATP Publishing.”), or from the “Daily Diaries” of other BCATP Schools; however, the situations (while true) did not necessarily happen to these L.A.C.’s.
The character of Vi(olet), Ethel’s best friend, is a composite of the real Vi Hedin as well as Flight-Line Mechanics Eve, May, and Olli May. Evereth really was Ethel’s friend from childhood, although we took some liberties with his personality. Ray really was the British pilot with whom Ethel fell in love. Johnny “Jerk” Jackson did die in a gruesome way and Ethel did have to hold his foot in a boot. Syd, another L.A.C. from Ray’s flight, sent Ethel the telegram.
Other than the initial meeting with the Squadron Leader and the first assembly, the Squadron Leader’s monologues are excerpted from the “Daily Diary of No. 31 E.F.T.S.” There were several Squadron Leaders at No. 31, but S/L Ron Watts was there the longest in the school’s life. For the purposes of this play, all excerpts from the “Daily Diary of No. 31 E.F.T.S.” are attributed to one Squadron Leader who we call S/L Watts, out of respect for his significant contribution to the BCATP.
Some words used offend our ears today, but they are authentic to the era and many are taken verbatim from other war-time sources.
Audio/Visual images can be projected on screens behind and/or around the stage or even on the actors (e.g., camp, barracks, runways, mess hall, canteen, machine shop, hangars, administration building, etc.).
Stavely, Alberta at that time was a Swedish and Norwegian community. Many people had accents and many adopted the same last name (e.g., Johnson) when they emigrated to North America. While Ethel’s and Vi’s first languages were Swedish, the spoke both Swedish and English (they called it “Swenglish” or “Engleska”) without accents. The script attempts a Swedish accent for Ellen Johnson (Ethel’s mother) and Evereth Johnson (Ethel’s friend). The pilots came from all over the Commonwealth and invariably had accents that seemed exotic to a couple of farm girls.
Never Let the Crew See You Cry” premiered at the Edmonton International Fringe Festival in 2013 with Ethel in the audience. Laura Raboud played Ethel; Judy McFerran played Vi and the other women; Alex D. Mackie played all the men. The production was directed by David Cheoros. “Never Let the Crew See You Cry” was selected as a Pick of the Fringe and toured five Alberta communities in February 2015 with the same cast and director. In summer 2016 “Never Let the Crew See You Cry” was selected for Suncor’s Stage One Festival of New Works (Lunchbox Theatre). The workshop and subsequent public reading featured Carly McKee as Ethel, Arielle Rombough as the women, and Braden Griffiths as the men; directed by Karen Johnson Diamond. In November 2016 the revised version of “Never Let the Crew See You Cry” was performed in Vermilion (Vermilion Allied Arts Council), Alberta with an additional two shows in Edmonton (Northern Sabbatical Productions). Laura Raboud played Ethel; Judy McFerran played Vi and the other women; Alex D. Mackie played all the men. The production was directed by David Cheoros.
Never Let the Crew See You Cry 2016
Linda Wood Edwards
9451 Ottewell Road
Edmonton, Alberta, Canada T6B 2E3
Playwright Bio: Linda has been producing her plays since 2005. She is delighted that Northern Light Theatre did the first professional run of The Great Whorehouse Fire of 1921 in November 2021 (co-written w/David Cheoros for Edmonton Fringe 2018). Other plays include Three Nights to Forever (2020), Trail and Error (2016), Spring Alibi (Adelaide AU 2015; 2005, 2014; Washington DC 2006; Yukon 2007; Sask. 2012); Never Let the Crew See You Cry (2013+tour), Four in the Crib (2012, 2013, High River 2018), True Grid (2007, 2010), Support Ho’s (2009), Beans & Rice (2006, Sask. 2017), Gibberish v. Genius (Canmore, YEG 2018), and Almost the Pioneer Brewing Company (Canmore, YEG, Fort McMurray 2018). Linda’s plays have garnered sweet accolades including two Sterling nominations.