Playwright Novelist Screenwriter

Workshop West Theatre Playwright’s Note

The Seed Savers

“Whoever said that farming is the foundation of all the arts is quite correct. When all is well on the farms, all is well elsewhere.”

–Xenophon in Oeconomicus, c. 370 B.C.E.


Ten years ago, I revisited my cousin’s farm in southern Alberta, Milk River country.  My cousin took me on two tours, one to see his grain and oilseed fields and another to see virgin grassland, never tilled, where his cattle graze.  Some of the fields were now silver stubble; they had been sprayed with chemicals to make the plants die and crumble.  The grassland was higher up in the hills where, in the diversity of short grasses, we found a native stone circle and an arrowhead and the magnificent prairie stretched out around us in all directions.

These two “truck tours” compelled me, five years later, to meet Percy and Louse Schmeiser, canola growers in central Saskatchewan. Theirs is a David and Goliath story, the subject of many documentaries and press articles.  What I proposed to do was find the way to truth in a drama, in my characters of Mindy and Joe.   I wanted to explore how families, friends and neighbors are affected by biotechnology, just as we are all touched by the wind. Although the wind was here first, and plays a significant role in prairie mythology, we have brought new technologies to the land, to the water, to the air and to our bodies.  How will this change us, as humans? How will we treat each other?  Will it change how we feel about betrayal, loss and forgiveness? What about love? This is, I believe, one of the challenges of the current century “until the day breathes and the shadows flee.”

This play was developed with the assistance of The Alberta Foundation for the Arts, The Banff Centre, Alberta Playwrights Network, University of Saskatchewan, Calgary’s Lunchbox Theatre and Workshop West Theatre’s Springboards New Play Festival.  Besides the cast and crew on this production, I would also like to acknowledge the work of many directors and actors who read earlier drafts: in Banff, Kate Weiss, John Wright, Linda Huffman, Nadien Chu, Jesse Gervais and Arlen Konopaki; in Saskatoon, Michael Clark, Robb Roy, Sharon Bakker, Rob van Meenen, Amy Matysio and Skye Brandon; in Calgary, Caroline Russell-King,  Tim Koetting, Valerie Ann Pearson, Brian Jensen, Natascha Girgis and Joel Smith;  and in Edmonton, Michael Clark, Ken Brown, Patricia Casey, Jesse Gervais, Twilla MacLeod and Mark Stubbings.  I would also like to thank Robert Kuhl, Bill Lane, Percy and Louise Schmeiser, Moira Day, Kevin Kerr, Rob Stone, Nick Wynnyk and Michael Clark for helping this play grow and, for being part of the world premiere of a new Canadian play, I would like to thank you.