Kayak plays the Firehall Arts Centre. Photo by Chena San Martin.
Kayak plays the Firehall Arts Centre. Photo by Chena San Martin.

Jordan Hall’s critically acclaimed Kayak, named one of our best productions in 2013, returns to Vancouver in a new co-production between Alley Theatre and the Firehall.  And while its cautionary tale focusing on the potentially catastrophic consequences of global warming may be reason enough to write, it was actually Hall’s disappointment in the re-election of Stephen Harper in 2008 that was its real impetus.

[pullquote]“We are living in a time when we are being tested in our ability to recognize and act on things that are happening and deciding how we as individuals can take action.  And if you believe what science is telling us there is a certain responsibility that we each need to take.” – playwright Jordan Hall[/pullquote]“I felt so baffled because he was such a disastrous choice on many levels,” says Hall. “I felt so alienated from my national identity at that time and that had never happened before.”

Feeling frustrated and helpless, Hall took to writing her ecological fable, but rather than simply railing against the Prime Minister’s record on the environment, she felt the need to provide a balanced approach in telling the story of Annie.

“I wanted to be able to both empathize with people that had a different view of the world than I did and write something that expressed that helplessness and loss that I felt,” she explains.

It is that balanced story that makes Kayak such a compelling journey, allowing its multiple voices to explore an issue of obvious importance to Hall.

Playwright Jordan Hall
Playwright Jordan Hall

“We exist in a society that offers little support to get us to a place in our lives where we can be green,” says Hall. “We all make excuses, I make excuses, and like Annie in the play we simply ignore the signs.”

That isn’t to say that Hall doesn’t have very firm beliefs when it comes to environmental issues, as she points to the irrefutable proof of global warming.

“We have scientific consensus and know from 99% of the most intelligent people on the planet that this is real,” says Hall. “It is very difficult to stand there and say this isn’t happening and I think that means as a species we are now facing this test of our ability to adapt.”

While the characters in her story are an amalgamation of people she has known over the years, Hall admits that her biggest inspiration for Kayak comes from activist and writer Rachel Corrie, who was killed in 2003 while participating in a protest in Gaza.

“Here was a girl that was 23 and close in age to myself who had literary ambitions, and while I had gone on with my comfortable life she had put down everything and stood with people that didn’t have anyone to stand up for them,” says Hall. “I respected that so much. I had never had anything bad happen to me during my days of activism, but I could see how much standing up to things you believe in could cost you.”

And while it is a far cry from the Middle East to the waters off the coast of Vancouver, the idea that we may very well live and die by the decisions we make is important for Hall.

“We are living in a time when we are being tested in our ability to recognize and act on things that are happening and deciding how we as individuals can take action,” says Hall. “And if you believe what science is telling us there is a certain responsibility that we each need to take.”

Kayak plays the Firehall Arts Centre (280 East Cordova St, Vancouver) January 7 – 17.  Visit http://firehallartscentre.ca for tickets and information.