By: Jocelyn Stevens, SFU student
I was intrigued by this idea as a former small-town resident of northern BC. Peace CountryYou will be pleasantly surprised by the emotional impact of the play and its relatability. WrittenDirected by alumnus of SFU Pedro Chamale, Peace CountryHe discusses the clashing narratives that he encountered while growing up in Chetwynd BC. The play was performed by Rice and Beans Theatre. And was presented by the Shadbolt Centre for the Arts from April 27–30. I I was astonished at the way the play depicted northern BC and the challenges associated with living there.
Chamale was inspired by reflections on his youth and his family’s experiences in the Peace Region as Latinx people. The play is a call for sociopolitical changes. Follow these stepsFive friends and their friends GrowthIn the Peace Region. Peace Country This article focuses on the challenges of trying to make it work in a small town.
I was pleased to see a land acknowledgement and a welcome given by Quelemia SparrowBefore beginning the play. Along with this, the performers and stories represented a wide range of marginalized communities — such as queer and BIPOC folks. The play centresThe lives of the people of two sisters (Sofía Rodríguez and Montserrat Videla) and their friends (Sara Vickruck, Garvin Chan, and Kaitlyn Yott).Despite their differences the five friends become close and share hardships like loss, racism, homophobia, and other difficulties. The play switches back and forth between the past, present, and the five friends find themselves in a situation where they must navigate the return of a friend.s, now a newly elected member of a green political party.
Some of the issues were touched upon in the play.Many people have to face hard realities. Some ExamplesOne example is local coffee shops closing due to big-name brands taking customers. Rapid increases or decreases in population are due to the pipeline, Indigenous communitiesDespite this, discussions about environmental change are not being included.
I interviewed Chamale and asked him what led him ultimately to create. Peace Country He realized that the disastrous effects of climate changes were already being felt in northern BC, on a much larger scale than urban centres.
“I started researching climate change and the climate crisis that we’re in right now [ . . . ] and then realizing that a lot of my friends and family are dependent on those resource industries,” said Chamale. “We, the world, need everything to change so that we can stop this climate crisis or try to mitigate it if we’re not already too far.”
Chamale was asked about the conflict in climate emergency and jobs in northern BC. He discussed the need for sustainable solutions to take care also of those in the industries up north.
“It’s the larger corporations that have not cared for people because of capitalistic profits and the capitalism we live in.” He continued, “We are subject to that system and so how do we talk across these differences that are just radicalizing so many people?”
Peace CountryI captured what seemed like innocent moments of children growing up with friends, switching between past and present, which made me curious about what scene would be next.The transition between scenes is stark contrasted this positive energy with eerie and heavy breathing — as if to make the audience members uncomfortable. I saw the contrast between scenes, transitions and everyday life as the simultaneity in climate crisis and everyday life.
I was struck by the characters’ personal stories, especially Melissa (Sara Vickruck), who spoke about the hardships that come with being the only openly lesbian person in a small community. They also touched on the loneliness and lackluster support available for LGBTQ2S+ people who have come into their own identities. This resonated with me because my friends and I left our small town to face the same struggles, and eventually found acceptance in urban areas.
Chamale hopes the audience will be inspired to take up political action by writing to their parliamentarians or attending rallies.
“Ask for these just transitions, ask for actual courage in our politicians to make actual change.” He added, “Provide for the people who need to switch out of those industries, not just drop them like dead weight.”
This play was supported PlaywrightsTheatre Centre PuShInternational Performing Arts Festival. Rice and Beans Theatre has more information about Peace Country. InstagramOr Website. To keep up on Pedro Chamale’s work, follow him on Instagram.