This Is Why We Live

After their successful Poland tour, This Is Why We Live will be part of La MaMa's 58th Season (OFF OFF Broadway, New York City)

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, New York City: September 19-29th, 2019

Supported by The Szymborska Foundation, The Polish Institute in Paris, The Miłosz Festival and Jagiellonian University where the company has been invited to host a talk on devised theatre and intercultural theatre practice.

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 Sasha Theodora

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

          This is Why We Live is generously supported by