Teesri Duniya Theatre presents a Broadleaf Creative production

The Chemical Valley Project

“Imagine your neighbourhood surrounded by 57 polluting factories; 1 factory for every 16 people.”

Timelier than ever, Broadleaf Creative’s The Chemical Valley Project has been gripping audiences since its creation and subsequent touring. This vital production delves gracefully into difficult conversations on treaty rights, the nature of contemporary Canadian identity and values, reconciliation and Canada’s notorious Chemical Valley. Rahul Varma, artistic director of Teesri Duniya Theatre is proud to present this important show playing at the company’s new Rangshala Studio at Cité-des-Hospitalières from March 14-24 (preview March 13). Continuing their mandate to encourage dialogue, the company will hold post-show talkbacks.

Through a captivating blend of multimedia storytelling and small scale spectacle, including documentary theatre, innovative projection design and object puppetry, The Chemical Valley Project engages audiences and sparks discussion.

The pandemic brought to the fore that Indigenous communities have worse health outcomes due to discrimination in environmental racism in policy-making. Forty per cent of Canada’s chemical industry is clustered into a 15-square mile area in Sarnia, Ontario in an area known as Chemical Valley. Over 60 petrochemical plants and oil refineries operate there 24/7; the area has become one of the most polluted hotspots in Canada. Here, a community of 900 residents is being smothered.

Two siblings from Aamjiwnaang First Nation, Vanessa Gray and Beze Gray, have dedicated themselves to protecting their territory’s land, air and water by trying to quash the pollution that threatens their community’s future. Broadleaf Creative artists Julia Howman and Kevin Matthew Wong collaborated with and imaginatively documented the Gray siblings’ firsthand accounts of their activism and journey as land defenders and water protectors. The siblings also served as dramaturgs and advisors for the show.

Vanessa and Beze’s ongoing work goes beyond their Ontario surroundings. This includes temporarily stopping the flow of Enbridge Energy’s Line 9 pipeline that starts in Sarnia, and whose final delivery point of crude oil and liquids ends in Montreal, where there have also been protests to shut the pipeline down.

Hard, eye-opening statistics threatening the health and safety of the community include 40% of adults in Aamjiwnaang carry an inhaler and 25% of children 10 under in Sarnia have asthma. Ever-present is the impact of high levels of daily stress caused by constant noise exposure, light exposure and the stress of living next to refineries and pipelines that could leak at any moment. There is also an effect on birth rates. For every two female babies there is only one male born, typically in Canada it’s half and half. Further, in Aamjiwnaang the percentage of women who experience at least one stillbirth or miscarriage is 39%.

For Wong, artistic director at Broadleaf Creative, the theatre’s aim has been to tackle environmental issues through engaging, accessible, and fun theatre performances. The Chemical Valley Project resonates strongly for him, “Despite its subject matter, the show has been described as a warm embrace for audiences that is rooted in empathy and care, and that navigates the subject matter with moments of surprise and levity,” he said.

Wong is looking forward to working with Varma and Teesri Duniya Theatre, “It’s an honour to be associated with a company renowned for its commitment to political engagement and advocacy in Montreal and elsewhere.” The feeling is mutual, “I invited this meaningful company because they focus on complex and urgent issues. The play is beyond rhetoric; it addresses decolonization, Canada’s commitment to Indigenous rights and the dangerous situation in Chemical Valley,” said Varma.

The Chemical Valley Project is a unique, visually striking, and edifying play that also manages to be intimate, intriguing and full of charm.

To purchase your tickets visit: www.teesriduniyatheatre.com

Rangshala Studio
251 av. des Pins Ouest, H2W 1R6

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