Guest Blog: DIVINE - Summerworks play speaks to a future without water

By Claire Burns of The Storefront Theatre
DIVINE runs August 4th to 13th at The Factory Theatre as part of the 2017 Summerworks Theatre Festival

This summer I’ve had the pleasure of directing a new play, DIVINE by Natalie Frijia- it’s a post-apocalyptic western set in an Ontario without water. It follows the story of the last Diviner - you know - someone who can divine water with a rod - she’s being hunted by an evil preacher hell bent on revenge. Think - the Good the Bad and the Ugly meets Mad Max. Water is personified in the play through her relationship with the Diviner.

“Water say ‘help me’ people say ‘water don’t talk’. How you talk when no one wanna hear.”

I assembled an all-female team to tackle the project. Partially because I wanted to subvert the predominately male western genre, partially because I wanted to create a female driven project and space. Ironically it’s been pointed out that most water advocacy in Canada is being led by women and that women are naturally more open to holistic approaches to caring for our resources so maybe I had that in the back of my mind as well.

Look I’m a cancer, a water sign, I FEEL more whole when I’m near a body of water. Working on this play has changed my personal relationship to water in a number of ways. The play takes place in the Grand River watershed, my research into the area connected me with the Wellington Water Watchers. I’ve learned about the province’s permission for the Nestle pumps, the commercialization of natural resources and the immense amount of waste created by the water bottle industry. I no longer buy bottled water or Nestle products.  I am closely following the work of the Great Lakes Commons as we are hoping to tour DIVINE as the centrepiece of an art and advocacy campaign in the summer of 2018. I would now call myself a Local Water Steward - I harass my friends about bottled water, educate them on how the water out of their taps comes out of Lake Ontario and advocate for increased awareness and conservation of our natural resources.

Working on DIVINE has woken me from the illusion that we in Ontario have infinite water resources. We don’t. And it’s time we listen, care and protect the finite resources that we are fortunate to live closely to before DIVINE turns from play to reality.

Photo Credit: John Gundy
Cast from left to right: Haley Garnett, Amanda Cordner, Khadijah Salawu, Aviva Armour-Ostroff, Christina Bryson, Rehaset Tha, Annie Yao
Costumes: Sage Paul
Set Design: Christine Urquhart