Available for Touring
By Sebastien Archibald, Kevin Loring and Quelemia Sparrow / Directed by Chelsea Haberlin with John Cooper / Consulting Dramaturg Kathleen Flaherty / Co-Production with Savage Society / In association with Gateway Theatre and Neworld Theatre / Developed with assistance from PTC
Immersive theatre company ITSAZOO and aboriginal performance company Savage Society bring to life a vibrant and personal account of the ongoing political battles over pipelines. Peak oil, First Nations land claims, and climate change are all explored with humour and empathy in this timely, meta-theatrical event.
The second act of the piece is a Talk Forward. Each night we invite a different speaker to respond to the piece and then participate in a facilitated conversation with the audience and performers.
Marcus Youssef (Artistic Director): I read the most recent draft which I really dug. Congratulations, it feels very exciting to me.
Quelemia Sparrow (Co-Creator and Performer of The Pipeline Project): Oh cool!
MY: How are you feeling about it?
QS: I’m feeling much better about it.
MY: What’s making you feel better?
QS: For me, the thing that was really interesting to me was the first nations politics, to get into it without being too political. For me it was all about ownership of land, and that’s what it boiled down to for me. Everything that I’ve been raised with from my mother and land claims issues came to the forefront with me and I couldn’t get away from it so that made me excited because I really wasn’t quite sure in the beginning what it was for me.
MY: For your character or for you as a creator?
MY: When you say you wanted to do it without being too political, what do you mean?
QS: Well two things – I feel like it was really hard to even explain a First Nations Land claim, nobody knows what they are, how they work, and once you get into actually explaining what they are, it’s really jarring, it’s really legal. But for me, I’m super passionate about it so I wanted to figure out how to explain it in a way that people would get it and be interested it. I don’t know if that’s happened yet, but.
Click below for the full audio of Marcus and Quelemia’s conversation.
MY: Tell me about the white dude in the play.
QS: (Laughs) We were starting to argue a lot, Sebastien and I. And the funny thing is that our characters are sort of aspects of ourselves, so Sebastien and I have ended up playing extreme versions of ourselves.
MY: Extreme how?
QS: Sebastien really is the ‘white guy’ in the play and I really am the ‘Native chick’ in the play. We got into a real fight during our last writing session, which was really great –
MY: – about what?
QS: about Canada. Because I said that Canada doesn’t exist. And he just couldn’t deal with that, at all, he couldn’t wrap his head about it!
MY: Like, conceptually he couldn’t?
QS: Maybe conceptually, but I think it was a purely emotional response as well too, that I didn’t expect.
MY: What was his emotion?
QS: Canada is his land and his country and his home, and for me to tell him that it doesn’t exist. I think everybody in the room, not just Sebastien didn’t like that.
MY: Did he – it make him feel like he didn’t exist?
QS: That’s what it felt like in the room to me, because it was a huge backlash in that moment, and when it happened. And actually Kevin was gone that day, so I was the only native person in the room that day, and then all of a sudden I was like “oh my god, all these white people are so mad at me right now because I said Canada doesn’t exist!” And uh. It got really emotional.
MY: That’s really interesting. You say backlash – how did the backlash occur, what do you mean? Anger? People yelled at you?
QS: There was a lot of anger in the room, we were yelling at each other.
MY: So why put yourselves in the play – you’ve made yourselves characters in the play, that can be really dangerous. I think it’s working really well, but doing the meta thing – why did you do that?
QS: Well, originally I wasn’t so into’ the whole meta thing. And then I felt the only way it was going to work was if the stories were personal to us, and so I think we were always on the same page as far as that was concerned. But for me – and I think we’re still figuring this out – what the meta actually is between all three of us, what is the conflict between-
MY: -I like that you guys have fights that I feel like I have with people in my head but I don’t have as much in real life.
QS: Really? Oh. Like what kind of fights?
MY: Like saying stuff like Canada doesn’t exist. That’s not exactly what I would say, I have my own version of ‘Canada doesn’t exist’ but you guys actually say those things to each other, it sounds like in the script that people aren’t responding as characters, they’re responding as people, like actual people, and I like that a lot.
Last question, cause we’re over our 5 minutes and it’s a stupid question but it’s actually occurred to me so I’m going to ask it. Why do all plays about the environment have a thing about SUVs in them?
QS: (laughing) I don’t know. You’d have to ask Kevin that. Kevin is obsessed with his SUV.
March 9-18 at Gateway Theatre, Richmond, BC
Photos of Sebastien Archibald, Kevin Loring and Quelemia Sparrow by David Cooper and Matt Reznek.