Jan 09

Alanna Mitchell’s Sea Sick stands apart from the rest

by Jenna Shummoogum · 0 comments


In 2009 Alanna Mitchell wrote a book called Sea Sick: The Global Ocean in Crisis. Her solo theatre piece by the same name in the High Performance Rodeo Theatre Festival is part lecture, part storytelling. In the end, this production stands apart from all the other environmental documentaries out there.

Mitchell opens with a confession that she never thought she would be up there, as a performer. She’s usually a member of the audience. And she’s taking a big risk telling her stories about her research about the ocean. Mitchell is a journalist who grew up in the stark beauty of the prairies with a her father, a scientist and her mother, a painter. Mitchell paints a narrative with words about her childhood and how she was always taught to follow her curiosity, and she did.

Which led her to tagging along with scientists as they did their research on different aspects of the ocean, from spawning coral to going to the bottom of the ocean, Mitchell tells us her story with a passionate voice. Her tales are colourful, funny and very human. She explains the numbers by drawing on a chalk board while she stands in a circle of light, chalked in the black box theatre of the Vertigo Studio. Mitchell’s findings are not heart warming and Sea sick is simultaneously so easy to be immersed in and yet hard to listen to.

What Michell reveals about Earth’s ocean is devastating. But what makes Sea sick different from every other environmental documentary out there, in whatever form they take, is that Michell is so compassionate in her telling. She reveals her own personal struggles and the emotions behind her research. It is what gives this play a whole lot of heart so that it isn’t another environmental story about how our world is ending. In fact this is the beginning.

Alanna Mitchell’s Sea sick is part of the 29th annual High Performance Rodeo Theatre Festival. There are two more performances only. More information is available online.

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