The Watershed

Written by:

Annabel Soutar

Cast Size:

Roles For:

  • Men: 28
  • Women: 23




Canadian Politics
Natural Resources


150 min.

Year Written:



“How much do we value clean water? Enough to stop our industrialized way of life from degrading it? The documentary play The Watershed follows an artist and her family in the struggle to chart a sustainable course between economic prosperity and environmental stewardship. Largely constructed from original interviews conducted by the playwright, The Watershed brings to the stage a multiplicity of ideological perspectives and conflicting visions for Canada’s natural resources, and its characters speak the words of real Canadians from all across the political spectrum. As the play reaches its boiling point, one thing becomes abundantly clear: a contemporary play about water in Canada must also be about oil. And so the playwright and family travel to Alberta’s tar sands, encountering along the way some of the world’s great freshwater scientists, some of Canada’s fiercest environmental activists, and impassioned individuals at work in the country’s burgeoning oil sector. Policy is anything but dry in The Watershed; in fact, it holds startling implications for our national identity and future.” (From the Talonbooks)


Annabel: a Montreal-based documentary theatre creator, early forties / Alex: playwright’s husband and father of Ella and Beatrice, early forties / Ella: Annabel and Alex’s daughter, age ten / Beatrice: Annabel and Alex’s daughter, age eight / News Anchor: male, any age / Janice Dean: reporter, Fox News Weather Center, mid-forties / Elliot: plumber, sixties / Shelly Glover: then federal minister of Canadian heritage, late forties / Michael Chan: then Ontario minister of tourism, culture and sport, sixties / Rob Ford: then mayor of Toronto, forties / Don Shipley: Pan Am Games creative director for arts and culture, festivals, sixties / Diane Orihel: Ph.D. candidate in ecology at the University of Alberta and director of the Coalition to Save ELA, thirties / Chris Abraham: artistic director of Crow’s Theatre in Toronto, Annabel’s co-production partner, forties / Hazel: Chris’s daughter, age seven, friend of Ella and Beatrice / Dr. Henry (Hank) Venema: vice-president, business devlopment, International Institute for Sustainable Development, forties / Dr. David Schindler: University of Alberta ecology professor and frewshwater scientist, sixties / Maude Barlow: national chairperson for the Council of Canadians, sixties / Susanne McCrea: executive director, Boreal Forest Network, forties / Rambling Dan Frechette: singer-songwriter, thirties / Caroline: Annabel’s friend, forties / Grandpa: Ian, Annabel’s father, seventies / Granny: Helgi, Annabel’s mother, seventies / James: Annabel’s brother, uncle to Ella and Beatrice, forties /  Abby: James’s wife, aunt to Ella and Beatrice, forties / Stephen Harper: then prime minister of Canada, fifties / Eloise Mitchell: then Department of Fisheries and Oceans communications manager, forties / Dave Gillis: then Department of Fisheries and Oceans assistant deputy minister, late sixties / Dr. Maggie Xenopolous: professor of aquatic science, Trent University, thirties / Dr. Paul Frost: Maggie’s husband, limnologist and professor of aquatic science, Trent University, thirties / Kennedy Stewart: then NDP for Burnaby-Douglas, fifties / David McGuinty: then Liberal MP for Ottawa South, fifties / Michelle Rempel: then CPC MP for Calgary Nose Hill, parliamentary secretary to the minister of the environment, thirties / Lauren Liu: then NDP MP for Riviere-des-Mille-Iles, twenties / Gary Goodyear: then CPC MP for Cambridge, fifties / Acting Speaker of the House (Barry Devolin): then CPC MP for Haliburton-Kawartha Lakes-Brock, fifties / Cameron: CBC TV reporter, mid-forties / Angela: CBC TV producer, early thirties / John: CBC TV cameraman, sixties / Adele Hurley: director, Program on Water Issues, University of Toronto Munk School of Global Affairs, fifties / Joe Oliver: then federal minister of natural resources, CPC MP for Eglinton-Lawrence, early seventies / Claudia Barila: Annabel’s friend and spouse of Cirque du Soleil and One Drop Foundation co-founder Guy Laliberte, thirties / Dr. Mike Paterson: then ELA senior research scientist, late fifties / Assistant to Senator Seidman: female, thirties / Oil Man: an executive vice-president (sustainability) for a large oil sands company, forties / Jian Ghomeshi: then host of CBC Radio show Q, forties / Kathleen Wynne: Liberal premiere of Ontario, sixties / Carol Off: host of CBC Radio show As It Happens, sixties / Greg Rickford: then CPC for Kenora, fifties / Lisa: Hazel’s mother and Chris’s wife, forties / First Nations Elder: seventies / Film Narrator: thirties / Male Sushi Diner: thirties / Female Sushi Diner: thirties / Oil Sands Tour Pilot: male, thirties

First Produced:

A co-production between Porte Parole Productions (Montreal) and Crow's Theatre (Toronto), Berkeley Street Theatre, Toronto, 2015


Available through Talonbooks.

The Watershed can be also be accessed at the Canadian Play Outlet.



Possible doubling options for cast of eight: Male Actor 1 – Don Shipley, Hank Venema, James, Stephen Harper, Dave Gillis, David McGuinty, Cameron, Jian Ghomeshi, Film Narrator, Male Sushi Diner, Oil Sands Tour Pilot / Male Actor 2 – Alex, Rambling Dan Frechette, Dr, Paul Frost, Kennedy Stewart, Dr. Mike Paterson / Female Actor 1 – Janice Dean, Shelly Glover, Hazel, Maude Barlow, Granny, Michelle Rempel, Acting Speaker of the House, Adele Hurley, Oil Man, Kathleen Wynne / Female Actor 2 – Mayor Rob Ford, Fort Garry Hotel Waitress, Susanne McCrea, Caroline, Greg Rickford, Liisa, Female Sushi Diner / Female Actor 3 – Beatrice, Chris Abraham, Dr. Maggie Xenopolous, Anonymous Liberal MP, Assistant to Senator Seidman / Male Actor 3 – Fox News Ancho, Elliot Levine, Michael Chan, Dr. David Schindler, Grandpa, John, Joe Oliver, First Nations Elder, Sushi Waiter / Female Actor 4 – Ella, Diane Orihel, Lauren Liu / Female Actor 5 – Annabel

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