This Is Why We Live

This is a theatre piece that relights the aura of routine, day-to-day life for our self-obsessed times.
— Trevor Abes, The Theatre Reader

Combining poetry-theatre, live music and collage; two actors and a musician journey through fragmented and visceral encounters with the world. Inspired by the poems of Polish poet Wisława Szymborska, This is Why We Live is a kaleidoscope of characters, thoughts, reflections, and memories; bringing the audience close to the poet's state of astonishment. We invite you to a unique international collaboration between Canadian company, Open Heart Surgery Theatre, Tara Arts (UK) and Theatre de L’Enfumeraie (France); blending three languages, we delight in bringing our audience into a surreal, cabaret-style performance that celebrates a great female voice of the 20th century.

Wisława Szymborska’s body of work is a canvas of words exploring humanity’s relationship with nature, the irony of existence and the existential questioning of our place within the universe. In Szymborska’s view, no matter how horrific the world may be we can still stand in awe, be amazed and remember what came before us. It’s this state of truly seeing the world around us that is explored in This Is Why We Live.

 Originally performed at Plateau 31 in Paris, France in April 2016 and then going on to The Theatre Centre in Toronto in October and the Hamilton Conservatory for the Performing Arts in Hamilton. The piece was part of Off-Miłosz Festival in June 2018 and performed in Krakow and Katowice.

Next stop: La MaMa Presents

This Is Why We Live in NYC

September 19-29th, 2019

As part of La MaMa’s 58th Season in the East Village, New York City:


Thursday-Saturday 8:00 pm

Sundays 5:00 pm

Sunday September 22nd Talk-back with the the cast and director after the show, facilitated by Anna Frajlich, professor emeritus at Columbia University.

66th East 4th Street, New York, New York

For tickets visit or call (212) 352 3101

WORD BOOKSTORES (Brooklyn, NY) is hosting an event on Thursday September 12th at 7:00 pm!

WORD BOOKSTORES (Brooklyn, NY) is hosting an event on Thursday September 12th at 7:00 pm!

Listen to the company on Polcast, a weekly English-language with a focus on Polish culture. Click here!


Created by Open Heart Surgery Theatre

Directed by Coleen MacPherson

Performed by Elodie Monteau, Alaine Hutton, Dobrochna Zubek

Music performed by Dobrochna Zubek

Music development and Dramaturgy by Tatiana Judycka and Dobrochna Zubek

Set and Costume Design by Helen Yung

Costume Design Associate Judie Plaza

Lighting Design by Rebecca Picherak

Lighting Design Associate Nic Vincent

Projection Design by Wesley McKenzie

Artistic Contribution by Sallie Lyons

Stage Management by A.J. Morra

Toronto Producer Rose Hopkins

Artistic Associate Yearime Castel Barragan

Polish Translation Consultant Viktor Lukawski

Technical Support Remington North

Photography by  Michael Cooper

French Translation by Piotr Kamiński

English Translation by Clare Cavanagh and Stanislaw Baranczak

We have been supported by Canada Council for the Arts, Polish Cultural Institute in Paris and New York City & The Polish Consulate in Toronto

Help us get our show to New York City this September 2019!

          This is Why We Live is generously supported by