Watler’s War takes to the stage

The Cayman Drama Society is staging the locally penned play Watler’s War.

Written, and directed, by local playwright Colin Wilson, the play won the Cayman National Cultural Foundation Playwriting competition in 2003 and made its debut last night at the Prospect Playhouse, Red Bay, where it will be staged for the next two weeks.

watlers war

The cast of Watlers War rehearse. Photo: Joanna Lewis

Although a work of fiction, the play is based on a true story which took place in Cayman during the Second World War. The play is about the Watler family of George Town, as told through the eyes of the youngest daughter Janet. Watler’s Waf features the Captain of the Home Guard and Chief of Police, Roddy Watler – one of Cayman’s forgotten and unsung heroes – as he discovers a German spy operating on island.

Rodriguez ‘Roddy’ Watler was born on 3 March, 1880, in Red Bay and passed away in April 1965 at the age of 85. He served as Inspector of Police for nearly thirty-three years, and was also Lighthouse Keeper, Foreman of Public Works, Boarding Officer of Vessels, and Warehouse Keeper. In 1942, he was appointed Officer in Charge of the Cayman Islands Company of the Jamaican Home Guard, a post he held until 1945 when the war ceased. In the 1932 hurricane he exhibited bravery in rescuing people who were marooned in Red Bay, and for this service he was awarded the King Edward VII Police Medal for Bravery.

‘The play should appeal to everyone of all ages,’ Mr. Wilson said. ‘It is dramatic, has intrigue, love, deceit, humour, sadness and happiness.’

The playwright and director said he was inspired to write the play by his wife, Joan.

‘Joan had told me and written poems about her early life living with Roddy. Then she told me about a German spy Roddy had arrested.

‘Roddy Watler is truly one of Cayman’s unsung heroes and was left out of the official history of the Cayman Islands. No Caymanian has ever been awarded seven medals, including one for bravery. He is the only Caymanian to hold the title Major, and gave 35 years dedicated service to Government. I felt I had to put the record straight.’

Colin Wilson has written over 20 plays, six of which have been published. Past plays by the playwright performed on the Playhouse stage include Magna Carta: The Musical Trial of King John, and The Judith Code. Mr. Wilson’s latest play, Mary Slessor: White Ma, is set to be published later this year and he is currently working on a pantomime, The Witch and the Spinning Wheel.

The Watler’s War cast is made up of 14, a mix of seasoned actors and newcomers to the stage.

‘The play never having been performed before has challenged the actors, the directing and set designing,’ Mr. Wilson said. ‘Directing a play that has been performed before has most of the kinks worked out. However, it is the most rewarding experience imaginable to see something you have written and imagined coming to life on stage.’

FYI

Production dates 13, 14, 15, 20, 21, 22, 25, 27, and 28 June.

Showtime is 7.30pm. Sunday performances are at 3pm. Admission is $20, $10 for children under 12. Tonight’s performance (Friday, 13 June) will start at 6.30pm with a drinks reception. Tickets are $35, $15 for children under 12.

CAST

Directed by Colin Wilson, produced by Penny Phillips.

Emily Watler – Angelica Border

Harold Arch – Zak Quappe

Janet Watler – Danielle Borden

Susan Thompson – Abigail Ebanks

Sam Watler – Athelston Watts

Rachel Watler – Brittany Borden

Sven Erickson – Bob Geddes

Roddy Watler – Dennis Hue

Hubert Merren – Roland Stacey

Blanche Watler – Teri Quappe

Daisy Ebanks – Keiko Yamamoto

Aunt Hildredge (He He) – Maria Kennedy

Darlene Erickson – Cyndy Ebanks

Johnny O’Brien – Shay Miller

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