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 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

Alberta’s chief medical officer of health, Dr. Deena Hinshaw, confirmed eight additional virus-deaths Monday afternoon including one in central zone. (Photo by Chris Schwarz/Government of Alberta)
Central zone up to 1,249 active COVID-19 cases

Red Deer sits at 257 active COVID-19 cases

Kelowna RCMP Stock Image.
Bentley post office damaged, armed robbery at Subway

Sylvan Lake RCMP respond to incidents in Bentley last month

James Taylor of Rimbey has won $100,000 from a scratch ticket. (Photo submitted)
Rimbey winner scratches his way to $100,000 prize

James Taylor says store staff were almost more excited than he was

A central Alberta woman is collecting Christmas gift donations for roughly 85 residents at Valleyview Manor in Rimbey. (Jennifer Feinberg/ The Progress)
Rimbey woman gathering Christmas gifts for seniors at Valleyview Manor

Margaret Tanasiuk says she doesn’t want anyone to feel forgotten on Christmas morning

A logo for Netflix on a remote control is seen in Portland, Ore.,Aug. 13, 2020. Experts in taxation and media say a plan announced Monday by the government will ultimately add to the cost of digital services and goods sold by foreign companies. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Jenny Kane
‘Netflix tax’ for digital media likely to raise prices for consumers, experts say

The government says Canadian companies already collect those taxes when they make digital sales

Gaming content was big on YouTube in 2020. (Black Press Media files)
What did Canadians watch on Youtube during isolation? Workouts, bird feeders

Whether it was getting fit or ‘speaking moistly,’ Canadians had time to spare this year

A teacher places the finishing touches on the welcome sign at Hunter’s Glen Junior Public School which is part of the Toronto District School Board (TDSB) during the COVID-19 pandemic in Scarborough, Ont., on Sept. 14, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Hindsight 2020: How do you preserve a year many Canadians would rather forget?

Figuring out how to preserve the story of the pandemic poses a series of challenges

Team Manitoba celebrate after defeating Team Ontario to win the Scotties Tournament of Hearts in Moose Jaw, Sask., Sunday, Feb. 23, 2020. Curling Canada wants Calgary’s Canada Olympic Park to be a curling hub for the season’s top events. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Calgary facility set to become curling hub during pandemic

Curling Canada has provisional approval for Calgary’s hub-city concept from Alberta Health

Ash and Lisa Van carry a freshly cut Christmas tree while wearing personal protective masks at a Christmas Tree Farm in Egbert, Ontario, Sunday, Nov. 29, 2020 THE CANADIAN PRESS/ Cole Burston
‘Everyone wants a tree and they want it now’: Christmas tree sales on pace for record

Anticipated demand for Christmas trees has sparked a rush by some to purchase more trees wholesale

A scene from last year’s Light the Night fundraiser at the Stettler Town and Country Museum. This year’s rendition is on a drive-through basis only, but it still promises to be a not-to-be-missed seasonal highlight. (Independent file photo)
Stettler Town and Country Museum hosts ‘Light the Night’

This year’s rendition is drive-through only, but will still prove to be a dazzling display

Paramedics register patients at a drive through, pop-up COVID-19 test centre outside the Canadian Tire Centre, home of the NHL’s Ottawa Senators, in Ottawa, Sunday, Sept. 20, 2020. A new poll suggests most Canadians aren’t currently worried that people in other countries might get a COVID-19 vaccine first. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang
Canadians not worried other countries will get COVID-19 vaccine first: poll

Forty-one per cent of respondents say they want the vaccine to be mandatory for all Canadians

Most Read