Sep 19, 2019
Sep 23, 2019

This Is Why We Live

US Premiere
Created by Open Heart Surgery Theatre
Directed by Coleen MacPherson

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Combining physical theater, live music and clown; two actors and a cellist bring to life the  ironic and astonishing poetry of Nobel Prize winning poet, Wisława Szymborska. Performed in three languages with original musical score throughout, the play awakens us to the poetic state of wonder and a fragmented humanity with incredible insight, humor and precision.  From a tango to a devotion to onions; to conversation with stones and the stars above,  This Is Why We Live is a celebration of the complexity of human existence and the poet herself, one of the greatest voices of the 20th century.

Directed by Coleen Shirin MacPherson
Performed and Devised by Alaine Hutton and Elodie Monteau
Music performed by Dr. Dobrochna Zubek
Original Music created by Tatiana Judycka and Dr. Dobrochna Zubek

Set and Costume Design by Helen Yung
Costume Design Assistant: Judie Plaza
Set Design Assistant: Kevin Yung
Lighting Design by Rebecca Picherak
Lighting Associate: Nic Vincent
Projection Design by Wesley McKenzie
Stage Management by A.J. Morra

Dramaturgy and Translation Support by Viktor Lukawski
Poetry by Wisława Szymborska
French Translation by Piotr Kamiński
English Translation by Clare Cavanagh and Stanislaw Baranczak
Artistic Support by Yearime Castel Barragan and Sallie Lyons

This project is funded by the Canada Council for the Arts, Polish Consulate (Canada) & The Polish Institute


Open Heart Surgery Theatre is an international theatre ensemble founded in 2014 based in Toronto and led by playwright and director, Coleen Shirin MacPherson.  Having toured work to Egypt, UK, France, USA and Poland, we are interested in the hyphenated space between cultures, often experimenting with language and form.  Our work is physical, having trained at Ecole Jacques Lecoq, we delight in work that focuses on the body; merging live music, media and dance to create original theatre that opens the heart and speaks about relevant issues of today.  We aim to bring stories close to our audience’s pulse and to enliven the female voice through experimentation with living or non-living female writers and artists, exploring new ways to approach the theatrical experiment.

Find out more at

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“70 minute mimetic rendering of Szymborska’s poetic world
that embraces humor, pathos, absurdity, and tragic recognition”

“a highly successful experiment proving poetry’s ability
to transcend cultural and linguistic boundaries—and even make the leap from page to stage”

“Honest, Exploratory, Poignant”

★ ★ ★ ★
“[ if you] long to be moved in a direction you didn’t know you could be moved to in a direction
you didn’t know existed, then This is Why We Live may be the show for you.”

“This is Why We Live is a thematic bouquet which explores the worlds in which we live, both animate and inanimate.”

La MaMa Presents the US Debut of 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.”
– ★ ★ ★ ★ The Theatre Reader

“The timing was pretty much perfect down to the slightest raised eyebrow.”
—Jess Gillis, Mooney on Theatre (Toronto, Canada)

“Pour sa première création internationale, la cie Open Heart Surgery nous offre une plongée fantasque à la découverte de la poésie sensible et éclatée de Wislawa Szymborska.”
— La Jaseuse, Lea Bernier Coffineau (Paris, France)

“Philosophical musings interspersed with brilliantly choreographed dance and physical theatre…”
— Full Stop Arts, Michael Reffold (London, UK)

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