“The Pipeline Project” is passionate and infuriating

The Firehall Arts Centre seating has been converted into a thrust setup. There are black garbage bags hanging from black pipes. Two trees made of white garbage and a circle is on the floor, projected onto these three surfaces are forests, and moving water. As is usual with a Lauchlin Johnston set: there’s a lot to look at.

2. PipelineProject-3609

This show has been four years in the making. It combines the voices of three actor/playwrights: Quelemia Sparrow, Kevin Loring, and Sebastien Archibald, who are all presented to the room with energetic cartoonish entrances accompanied by loud music and projection. Quelemia is Musqueam, Kevin is N’lakapamux, and Sebastien is white. This is important, because these three perspectives continually make for heated discussion throughout the play. The stories that they tell are most supported by the projections by lighting and projection designer Conor Moore.

There are a lot of stories that make up the first act. We are transported by family stories (including some lovely puppetry directed by Shizuka Kai), news reels of Justin Trudeau, Rachel Notley and John Horgan, a lesson on land reserves and claims, a devastating ten-minute scene about the Kalamazoo Oil Spill, which was caused by Enbridge, and a look at the disgusting aftermath of the Pemberton Music Festivals. I won’t tell you everything, you ought to witness this for yourself.

Director Chelsea Haberlin facilitated a “talk forward” after the first act, with speaker David Boyd, who enlightened the room with facts, stories and relentless hope for our future. Every show will have a different speaker for the second act, which will be something to look forward to.

I am astounded by the impact this show left on me. The script reminds again and again, that the issue of Site C and the pipelines is not whether or not they are necessary, it is the fact that they are to be constructed on sacred, occupied land.

The Pipeline Project runs January 10th-20th at the Firehall Arts Centre, before heading out to New Westminster and Ottawa.

For tickets and more information, click here.


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