by Marilo Nunez, Artistic Director
When Caridad Svich asked Alameda Theatre Company to be part of the international reading scheme for her play The Way of Water, I was honoured and immediately jumped at the chance. I was interested in bringing environmental awareness to the forefront and in creating alliances with Latin American writers outside of Canada.
I delved into the research. I immediately connected to the world that Caridad had created and specifically to the four central characters, Jimmy, Rosalie, Yuki and Neva. Reading accounts of the health, ecological and environmental realities these people faced everyday made my stomach turn. I read and re-read the play and every time I did, my heart opened up to these four complex and human characters more and more. I began to feel their rage, their pain, and their frustration. We needed to inhabit these characters so that our audiences could feel the humanity of these people, feel the impact of the destruction. I was driven to bring awareness to us as Canadians about the force the environmental spill had (and is having) not only on the people who live “over there”, but on all of us. We need not look south to understand the impact the oil industry is having on the environment. The Way of Water is a political call to action.
The four actors who volunteered their time, Michelle Arvizu, Karl Ang, Andrew Moodie and Cherisa Richards, delved wholeheartedly into the play. Something magical happened as they began to read the words aloud. We were present and open to having the full force of these people come alive in the theatre and in our hearts. The power of their voices was palpable and we were all moved to tears. (And I hope to action.)
I felt, without a doubt, that Caridad had created a bleak world with a defined sense of hope. Hope for the future of the people who were (and are) directly affected by the event. And hope for the rest of us. There was a will, the will of the people and of the human spirit to create a world where we listen to one another, support and fight for each other’s right to live free of pain, distrust and anger. It was one of the best play readings that I had ever been involved in. And I thank Caridad for giving Alameda Theatre Company the chance to be able to be involved in an important international political experience.
I now want to be more involved in making people aware of the environmental concerns here in Canada. The tar sands and the pipelines that are currently destroying our natural resources, and our environment are areas that we as Canadians should be talking about more honestly. Here are some very disturbing facts (from Tarsandswatchatch.org):
Greenhouse gas emissions from tar sands production are three times those of conventional oil and gas production [currently tar sands production emits 27 megatonnes per annum and is expected to rise to 108-126 megatonnes by 2015]. Thus, the tar sands are now poised to become Canada’s largest single emitter of greenhouse gas, compounding this country’s contribution to global warming.
Oil sands plants typically use two to four barrels of water to extract a barrel of oil from the tar sands, but some extraction methods can use as much as 7 barrels of water. The amount of water needed for the tar sands is seriously lowering the water levels of the Athabasca River, the Mackenzie Valley watershed and other related water sources in the region.
Many aboriginal groups are being left out of the process and run over in the race for development of the tar sands. First Nations in Alberta, Saskatchewan and the Northwest Territories have claimed that traditional lands are being destroyed for tar sands exploration and extraction, and First Nations are not being included, or properly compensated for their lost and destroyed lands and water supplies.
Currently, 66% of tar sands oil is being exported to the United States, while over 40% of the oil used in Canada is imported to fulfill the needs of Eastern Canada. When the Keystone pipeline is built from Alberta through to the States, the tar sands industry will become increasingly reliant on US refineries for processing and Canada will continue the tradition of providing raw resources to the United States instead of processing it (and creating more jobs) for ourselves. The tar sands industry is ensuring the energy security of the United States while ignoring the energy needs of the rest of Canada.
We need to raise awareness about what will happen if we are not informed and do not do anything to stop the destruction of crucial resources in our country, all in the name of money and greed. The most important lesson I learned throughout was: the more knowledge we have, the better equipped we will be to stop events like the BP oil spill from ever happening again.
“Power to the people”, an axiom that lives full force in this play, stands out for me. Gracias Caridad, for your courage and perseverance to tell the truth.
The Way of Water by Caridad Svich was read on April 29th, 2012 at Alameda Theatre in Toronto, Canada where Marilo Nunez is the Artistic Director. Alameda Theatre Company produces Canadian theatre with a distinct Latin American perspective. We develop the work of Canadian Latin American playwrights and create professional opportunities for our artists. We mentor the next generation of Latino artists in Canada. We also look for creative ways to interact with artists on an international level, especially if they have a connection to Latin America.