Let’s gaze 150 years into Canada’s future

By Jasminee Sahoye

Do you have opinions on what Canada could be in 150 years?

If so, a new national conversation on this topic is scheduled to start on Feb. 2. Sparked by nine newly commissioned plays, Canadians’ hopes for our country’s future will be captured on video at 21 cities and shared on Canada300.ca.

Through innovative use of arts and technology, Canadians will be engaged in an evolving dialogue – both in-person and virtual.

The nine plays will have three performances. The first audience in each location will be comprised of invited community builders; the second will be comprised of invited student community builders. The third performance is for the public.

The plays, which range between two and 20 minutes in duration and were selected from a national call, with over 100 submissions, are written by exceptional playwrights from around Canada. They include Governor General Award winners like Kevin Loring and emerging theatre sensations like Melanie Léger.All performances will be available in English or French.

The circle of artists who chose the plays are Sonja Smits, Tanya Davis, Jackson Davies, Jane Hilderman, Tom Jackson, Alain Jean and Pamela Sinha.

The five actors, Richard Beaune, Shiong-En Chan, Eloi Hoimer, Malube and Josée Young, are fluently bilingual. Watermark Theatre actor and director Robert Tsonos directs the plays in both languages. Award winner Jackie Chan designs the set while Laura Gardener helms the costumes. Internationally acclaimed Canadian music director Boko Suzuki will create a new score for the plays.

“In 2014, Prince Edward Islanders celebrated the 150th anniversary of the conversations which began our country. Now, Islanders invite all Canadians to express their hopes for our shared future. Through an innovative use of art and technology, PEI’s Watermark Theatre will inspire Canadians to express their dreams for what our country could be on its 300th birthday, 150 years from now,” says Prince Edward Island Premier Robert Ghiz.

Audience ideas sparked by the plays will be posted at Canada300.ca where the conversation will continue with contributions from Canadians everywhere.

“Why should theatre spark the national conversation? Because to dream about the next 150 years, some imagination is needed. And theatre is an art form which specializes in sparking people’s imagination,” noted the project leader Duncan McIntosh, artistic director of Watermark Theatre.

“Canadians need a place to express our big ideas for the future: Ideas bigger than the ones that fit into a four year election cycle or a 24 hours news cycle. Canada 300 is the place to express them.”

The project will culminate at the J.S. Palmer Conference in September 2015 where one representative from each community will be invited to Charlottetown to contribute to the first conversation of Canada’s next 150 years.

Nominate yourself or someone you admire to receive an invitation, or buy a ticket at Canada300.ca.  All performances are limited to 150 people.

In September of 1864, representatives from Canada East and West joined a meeting of Maritime colonies in Charlottetown. These conversations, which were immediately followed up in Quebec, created Canada in 1867.

If you have a question or a comment or want to help or see a show, write to info@Canada300.ca or call tel: 1-902-367-8687.