Future of the Alberta oil sands to be explored through theatre and discussion

February 3, 2011

Toronto, ON—“The Oil Sands: What Future?” will combine an evening of theatre and discussion of the oil sands on February 9 in Toronto. The event is sponsored by the Calgary-based Sheldon Chumir Foundation for Ethics in Leadership.

The play, Highway 63: The Fort Mac Show, is produced by Theatre Passe Muraille and developed by Architect Theatre. The conversation features Andrew Nikiforuk, bestselling author of Tar Sands: Dirty Oil and the Future of a Continent, and Janet Keeping, president of the Sheldon Chumir Foundation for Ethics in Leadership.

WHEN: Wednesday, February 9, 2011, 7:30 PM
WHERE: Theatre Passe Muraille, 16 Ryerson Avenue, Toronto

FOR MORE INFORMATION:

Dan Shapiro
Sheldon Chumir Foundation for Ethics in Leadership
403-244-6666
dshapiro [at] chumir.ca

TORONTO MEDIA REFERENCE:

Heather Ervin
Associate Producer, Publicity, Theatre Passe Muraille
416-504-7529 x 2140
heathere [at] passemuraille.on.ca

Ticket Prices: $25.
Student, Senior and group rates available, phone to enquire.

Arts Box Office 416-504-7529 or at The Arts Box Office located at 16 Ryerson Avenue
Open Tuesday – Saturday from 12:00pm – 6:00pm and one hour before the show.
Or 24 hours a day online: www.passemuraille.on.ca

BACKGROUND:

Highway 63: The Fort Mac Show
www.passemuraille.on.ca
www.architecttheatre.com

The Athabasca oil sands, while home to some of the world’s largest deposits of crude oil, are also booming with people; who have suddenly moved there from across the country. Highway 63: The Fort Mac Show is an honest, humorous and insightful portrayal of the relationships in the transient town of Fort McMurray.

Highway 63: The Fort Mac Show follows the journey of two roommates working in the oil industry and a local woman wanting nothing more than to leave Fort McMurray. The production manages the rare achievement of blending the personal and the political without commenting on either. What results is a touching tale of life in a transient city where everyone is either arriving or leaving and all are trying to balance love, money, oil and politics.

Given TPM’s celebrated practice of developing and supporting emerging theatre companies in their formative stage (e.g. Buddies and Bad Times, Necessary Angel, CODCO, Nightwood), Architect Theatre is just the next in a long line of independent Canadian companies that call TPM home. This Theatre Passe Muraille production also celebrates the company’s long standing tradition as the home of collaborative creation.

Georgina Beaty and Jonathan Seinen formed Architect Theatre in 2008 because they wanted to make a play about being Albertan. Highway 63: The Fort Mac Show began as a way to return home, a way to talk about this unique region of Canada, and a way to ask the question, “What is life like on the front lines of the oil sands, the world’s largest energy project?”

REVIEWS:
“The show itself is a remarkably balanced, well-written, thoughtful, funny window into the lives of a dozen different Fort Mac characters…. Highway 63: The Fort Mac Show has the guts and wit and chops to talk about oilsands in a way where people from both sides of the issue can sit and have a conversation about it.” – Calgary Herald

ARCHITECT THEATRE
Highway 63: The Fort Mac Show’s collective is comprised of Georgina Beaty, Jonathan Seinen, Greg Gale, Charlotte Corbeil-Coleman and former TPM Artistic Director Layne Coleman. Georgina is a graduate of the University of Alberta and Studio 58 and was recently seen in Unity (1918) with the Alberta Theatre Projects, for which she received a Betty Mitchell Nomination. Jonathan is a graduate of the University of Alberta and the National Theatre School whose recent acting credits include As You Like It (Citadel Theatre/Banff Centre Professional Theatre Program) and The Nick Drake Project (SummerWorks). Greg received the 2005 Hnatyshyn Foundation’s Developing Artist Grant, which is given annually to one young artist in Canada who shows special promise and talent in his or her area of study. His recent credits include Dance of the Red Skirts (Theatre Columbus) and Saltwater Moon (Rising Tide). Charlotte’s writing credits include The End of Pretending, which won the 2002 Summerworks Eye Audience Choice Award, and Scratch, which was nominated for a Dora and a Governor General’s Award. Steve has designed sets and lighting for more than 250 productions of theatre, dance and performance art; he has received 28 Dora Award nominations and has won four times.

Layne Coleman was the Artistic Director at Theatre Passe Muraille from 1998-2007. He is thrilled to be part of this collective and for his work to be in his favourite venue in the city the TPM Backspace. Some of his favourite credits at TPM include The Drawer Boy, da kink in my hair, The Rochdale Project, and Fish Eyes.

DISCUSSION SPEAKERS:

  • Andrew Nikiforuk, Author of Tar Sands: Dirty Oil and the Future of a Continent.

For the last two decades, Andrew Nikiforuk has written about energy, economics and the West for a variety of Canadian publications including The Walrus, Maclean’s, Canadian Business, The Globe and Mail’s Report on Business, Chatelaine, Georgia Straight, Equinox and Harrowsmith.

In the late 1990s, he investigated the social and ecological impacts of intensive livestock industries and the legacy of northern uranium mining for the Calgary Herald. His public policy position papers on water diversion in the Great Lakes (2004) and water, energy and North American integration (2007) for the Program on Water Issues at the University of Toronto’s Munk Centre sparked both discussion and reform.

Nikiforuk’s journalism has won seven National Magazine Awards since 1989 and top honours for investigative writing from the Association of Canadian Journalists. His dramatic Alberta-based book, Saboteurs: Wiebo Ludwig’s War Against Big Oil, won the Governor General’s Award for Non-Fiction in 2002.  Pandemonium, which examines the impact of global trade on disease exchanges, received widespread national acclaim.  In Tar Sands: Dirty Oil and the Future of a Continent, Nikiforuk examines the world’s largest energy project, and is a national best seller. It recently won the 2009 Rachel Carson Environment Book Award and was listed as a finalist for the Grantham Prize for Excellence in Reporting on the Environment.

Nikiforuk and his wife and three sons, Aidan, Keegan and Torin, live in Calgary, Alberta.

Whether speaking or writing about melting glaciers, educational shams, peak oil, or the destruction of the boreal forest, Nikiforuk has earned a reputation as an honest and provocative voice in Canadian journalism.

REVIEW:
“Andrew Nikiforuk is one of the most astute, relentless and original writers of his generation. This book, which reveals the true cost of the Alberta tar sands, shows why he’s so admired in some quarters and so feared in others.” – Gary Stephen Ross, Editor-in-chief, Vancouver Magazine

  • Janet Keeping, President, Sheldon Chumir Foundation for Ethics in Leadership

Janet Keeping has a BSAD (Bachelor of Science in Art and Design) from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and an MA (Philosophy) and LL.B. from the University of Calgary.  She was called to the Alberta Bar in 1982. Janet has been President of the Sheldon Chumir Foundation for Ethics in Leadership since April 2006.

Prior to joining the staff of the Foundation, Janet was Research Associate and Director of Russia Programs for the Canadian Institute of Resources Law at the University of Calgary. Her work included an examination of conflicts between human rights law and the law pursuant to which oil and gas is developed in Alberta.  Projects in Russia were aimed at exposing Russians to market-oriented and democratic processes for regulation of their oil and gas sector. A crucial goal was to explain, and instill respect for, the rule of law.

Together with Sheldon Chumir and others, Janet was one of the first directors of the Calgary Civil Liberties Association, formed in 1977. In 1982, she and Sheldon founded the Alberta Civil Liberties Research Centre, of which Janet was the first Executive Director.

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