David Suzuki and his wife Tara Cullis go through a rehearsal for their play What You Wouldn’t Do For Love with Ravi Jain and Miriam Fernandes in Vancouver B.C, Thursday, January, 30, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward

David Suzuki and wife Tara Cullis take stage in theatrical debut

‘What You Won’t Do For Love’ to open at Push International Performing Arts Festival in New Westminster

One of Canada’s best-known environmentalists and broadcasters is making his theatrical debut in a performance that explores whether people can learn to love the planet the way they love each other.

David Suzuki will take to the stage alongside his wife and fellow activist Tara Cullis in “What You Won’t Do For Love,” created in collaboration with the Toronto-based Why Not Theatre.

Set at the dinner table, the scripted conversation will feature stories from the couple’s life spanning four decades at the forefront of the environmental movement, explained the theatre’s artistic director, Ravi Jain.

Decisions about how to mitigate climate change often hinge on economic fears, rather than the interconnectedness of humans with nature, Suzuki said in an interview.

But to deal with the environmental crisis seriously, he said, “We have to love the world that gave birth to us and that keeps us alive and healthy.”

“What You Won’t Do For Love” focuses on family bonds, the excitement and frustrations of activism and the motivating force of love itself, with a hearty dash of humour and the goal of energizing the audience, said Jain.

They’re offering audiences a sneak peek into the show as it takes shape during a workshop akin to an open rehearsal Tuesday evening during the Push International Performing Arts Festival at the Anvil Centre in New Westminster.

It was Jain who approached Suzuki, 83, and Cullis, 70, with the idea to create a performance with love as the central theme, and the couple were intrigued.

It’s a critical year for climate action and the future of the planet, said Suzuki. So, he decided to try his hand at something new to engage people and have fun, too.

“We’re pulling out all stops in the sense that we’ll even try to be actors,” he said, laughing.

A geneticist by training, Suzuki has spent much of his life communicating science to audiences across Canada and the world as the host of CBC’s documentary television show “The Nature of Things,” among many other broadcasting roles.

But science can be limited, too, said Suzuki, noting that love is an important salve and motivating force in the face of climate change, environmental degradation and the feelings of grief that can ensue.

Indeed, the American Psychological Association has released a report on how climate change is affecting mental health, while a study from the University of Alberta showed that the wildfires that burned through Fort McMurray, Alta., in 2016 took a lasting psychological toll on many residents.

Jain is a firm believer in the power of theatre, poetry and storytelling to spark change. Previously, he helped direct “Sea Sick,” a play about the state of the world’s oceans by Canadian science journalist Alanna Mitchell.

“Since time immemorial … we painted the world we saw on caves in hopes we could try to understand the world and our relationship to it. The stories we tell will help shape how we see,” said Jain, who will join Cullis and Suzuki on stage in addition to directing the show.

READ MORE: 15 Canadian youths to sue Ottawa for not acting on climate change

Brenna Owen, The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

David Suzuki

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Wally Oppal says policing ‘too important’ to be left to the police

Oppal was keynote speaker at a Surrey Board of Trade “Hot Topic Dialogue” breakfast event Wednesday

Flip-flopping pleas in Surrey man’s 2018 murder in West Kelowna

Following an shocking guilty plea on Feb. 25, Tejwant Danjou applied to retract that plea on Feb. 26

Surrey skater speeds his way to four golds, a silver at BC Winter Games

‘I just really enjoy going fast on the ice,’ says Barnett Liu, 14

‘Urgent’ need for Metro Vancouver homeless count volunteers

Organizers say another 100 people are sought to help in Surrey and Burnaby

UPDATE: Surrey RCMP say missing 14-year-old has been found and is safe

Brayden Ritchat, 14, had been last seen in the 10800-block of 141st Street in Whalley on Feb. 21

VIDEO: Minister says consider coronavirus outbreak when planning for spring break

Foreign Affairs minister points to rash of new cases appearing in places like Italy and Iran

Alberta tourist dies after plunge from 70-metre cliff in Stanley Park

The 26-year-old hopped a fence at Prospect Point on fell to a walkway below, police said

B.C. man who pulled a gun on off-duty cop gets two years in prison

Encounter also led police to a home where 100 guns and explosives were found

New Westminster woman’s ‘out of character’ disappearance probed by police

She left without telling anyone, prompting investigation by Major Crimes Unit, police say

EDITORIAL: Fraser Health needs to be transparent to fight coronavirus panic

Fraser Health and other authorities are not helping by being vague in recent communications

Riverdale actress Lili Reinhart rescues puppy from Langley shelter

American actress named her adopted pup Milo

How clean is your favourite local restaurant or café?

Online inspection reports allow consumers to find health hazard of all food facilities in region

Protecting privacy key to stopping spread of COVID-19, B.C. health officials say

The number of coronavirus cases in B.C. remains at seven

Most Read