The Waters

Written by:

Gail Nyoka

Artist/Creator(s) Identify As:


Cast Size:

Roles For:

  • Men: 1
  • Women: 7




Mental Health


80 min.

Year Written:



Where are the lines between dream, imagination, the unconscious, and everyday reality? In The Waters, four women, a doctor and a nurse come to a remote lakeside retreat, and find that the lines cross and blur.

The women have been invited to take part in a pilot project – a semi-clinical setting where they are expected to benefit from the psychological healing to be found in the wilderness – a retreat from the stresses of the everyday world.

The retreat is not what anyone expects. Characters from the past appear within the waters and vicinity of the lake. A supernatural figure invites one of the women to dance. The women begin to take stock of their lives and the events that have molded them. When these out-of-the ordinary events occur, some of the visitors cling to the world as they have known it, where they feel more comfortable, and much safer. Others begin to find a new way to look at their lives.

Water symbolizes the unconscious and, for this reason, is often associated with the feminine. The lake, is remote from ‘civilization’, a primal place of birth and rebirth, which is at odds with rationality, yet can bring a certain knowing and healing, if entered into. This kind of knowing is resisted, for the most part, in our everyday world. In this performance, people are invited – encouraged – to step out of the everyday, and into a different way of thinking.

This 2-act play is movement oriented. Movement plays a part in establishing a dreamlike quality to the piece.


Any of these characters may be people of colour or indigenous peoples.

Diana Garnett, age 37.
Janice Sharpe, age 55.
Dolores Keys, age 52.
Sylvia Lande, age 35.
Nurse Lillian Burns, age 60. Wears a lab coat over her conservative clothing. Preferably played by a person of colour.
Doctor Lewis Moore, 65. Dresses conservatively, expensively.
Male antlered, masked figure.
Female headless figure, bloodied and with a bloody hole for a heart.

The antlered figure and the headless figure – the otherworldly characters – can both be played by the same actor

First Produced:

Staged readings at Cleveland Public Theatre, 2016


The Waters is available through the Canadian Play Outlet.

To view other works by this playwright, click here.