One-Man Play Captures Untold Story of War Hero


1 One Man Play Captures Untold Story Of War Hero Pic

With Remembrance Day around the corner, Canadians will reflect on the stories and sacrifices of Canadian heroes who served in the military. One of the many stories is that of Honorary Captain John Weir Foote, a Canadian minister who served as a chaplain during the Dieppe raid on the shores of France in 1942 during World War II. Discretely known as “Padre X,” Captain Foote received the Victoria Cross for his humanitarian efforts at Dieppe, the first ever awarded to a Canadian chaplain.

Local playwright Marc Moir has written and performed a legacy one-man play to capture the story in a production of the same name, Padre X.

The story begins with an intriguing premise. “He snuck along on the Dieppe raid,” says Moir. “He wasn’t supposed to go. Chaplains weren’t going into combat at that time yet, but he wasn’t about to leave his men.”

During the raid, Captain Foote is credited with traversing blood- and fire-soaked beaches to administer first aid, inject morphine to the wounded, and carry men back to first aid posts.

It doesn’t end there. Moir continues to elaborate on the remarkable commitment of this hero after the raid.

“He refused evacuation,” he says of Foote’s remarkable commitment. “He was in one of the last rescue boats to leave and he thought about all the guys who had been left behind and realized they needed someone to help them, so he jumped out, swam back, and surrendered as a POW to minister to his men.”

Captain Foote continued to minister as a prisoner of war for over three years.

Moir first heard the story of John Weir Foote as a kid in elementary school. He came across the story again in 2008 when he was looking for a new project.

“I started doing some research and I was thrilled to find out that no one had ever written this guy’s story before,” says Moir. After writing the story as a script, he performed a one-night premiere at the Prairie Theatre Exchange in 2009 and performed at the Winnipeg Fringe Festival in 2010. “It was a massive, massive hit and from there I’ve been doing it since then.”

Capturing a story of wartime interaction in the format of a one-man play was a fun challenge for Moir.

“If you forget your line, nobody can bail you out,” he says. “You’re responsible for creating the drama, carrying the story, and remembering the entire play by yourself.”

In return, this unique format rewards the audience with a deeper, more intimate connection with both the actor and the storyline.

“One of the lovely things about doing this play,” Moir adds, “is that it’s been a way for not only me to tell this story, but also for other people to keep these stories alive and remember together.”

Since its 2009 debut, Padre X has proven to appeal across generations from youth to those who hold their own WWII memories. The core themes include faith, compassion, Canadian pride, and the importance of peace and understanding. It also makes a strong statement about the importance of civic duty.

“Foote became a prisoner of war by choice so he could care for his fellow soldiers that he’d been entrusted,” says Moir. “In a world where we often don’t know our neighbours anymore, there’s something to be said for that, the idea of taking responsibility and caring for each other.” 

For Moir, the appeal is also personal. “It was a great Canadian story and as a Christian it’s always nice to come across a story that has crossover appeal and is an incredible true story.”

Padre X will be showing November 3–4 at 7:00 p.m. at the Steinbach Bible College chapel. These two shows are being sponsored as a fundraiser by the Provencher Conservative Electoral District Association. The family-friendly play is 75 minutes long, with a food and beverage intermission offered 45 minutes into the performance. 

Moir concludes with a sombre reminder. “Nothing in history happened in a vacuum. Everything has a causal affect. So if nothing else, [Padre X] may get people sparked about studying our past and our history.”

For more information

Tickets can be purchased at Rocco’s Pizza in Steinbach or by calling 204-355-8360.

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