what I learned from a decade of fear

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Are white privilege, second-class citizenship, surveillance, and interrogation the market price we pay for peace, order, and good government?  What of the lives of others, whose countries are disrupted in the name of our safety and comfort?

In an idealistic act of penance, Canadian-born white male Lyon Smith submits to having Colombian-born brown female migrant Beatriz Pizano pull incriminating details from his more-or-less average life. Under a visual palette composited from live security cameras and found footage, what begins as a eulogy for the human costs of our collective safety becomes a ritual to atone for a decade of repression, war, and paranoia.


Directed and designed by multi-award winning artist and Aluna Artistic Producer, Trevor Schwellnus, this daring piece showcases Aluna’s continuing commitment to risk and experimentation. After successful development through a Theatre Centre Residency, and presentations in New York City (La MaMa ETC), Bogotá, Colombia (Festival Alternativo), and Montreal (The Hemispheric Institute’s Encuentro), and Toronto (Aluna Theatre), the piece returns to The Theatre Centre for a remount at the Progress Festival following a 2015 Dora Award nomination for Outstanding New Play.

Thursday – Friday – Saturday at 10pm, Sunday at 2pm: January 21-24, 2016

“The two actors are so sincere in their speeches and interactions, have such strong chemistry, that we can almost – not quite, but almost – be lulled into accepting some pretty outrageous statements. That’s part of the power of this show, a Möbius strip that turns on itself at the end, blending politics and emotions in an unusual theatrical package.”
– Jon Kaplan, NOW magazine

 “It’s not often that a show so rooted in the scariest sorts of political misappropriation of power offers thoughtful character development and humour as well.”
– Dani Phillipson, Royal Holloway University, UK

“A fresh, visceral interrogation of how fear terrorizes us into building prisons and fortresses that confine our minds and others bodies.”
– Helene Vosters, performance artist

“In only 65 minutes this remarkable performance piece sums up the contradictions in modern life ten years or more since the “War on Terror” was launched.”
– Christopher Hoile, Stage Door

“Both Beatriz Pizano and Lyon Smith give strong performances that make you want to watch them…”
– Jeremy Gardiner, Mooney on Theatre


Created and performed by:  Beatriz Pizano, Trevor Schwellnus, Lyon Smith
Director / Scenographer:  Trevor Schwellnus
Sound Design:  Lyon Smith
Choreography consultant:  Ame Henderson
Costume consultant: Erin Gerofsky
Assistant Director: Sebastian Marziali
Production assistant: Jessica Zepeda
Surtitle translation: Carlos Gonzalez-Vio and Olimpia Boido
Producer: Sue Balint

Read the director’s notes.

This production is tour-ready with a team of four.

Previous presentations:
New York City (La MaMa ETC) – March 2014
Bogotá, Colombia (Festival Alternativo) – April 2014
Montreal, Quebec (The Hemispheric Institute’s Encuentro) – June 2014
Toronto, Ontario (Aluna Theatre) – November 2014

The Refuge of Freidel (El Refugio de Freidel)

DSC_1330 Liliana Suarez refugiodefreidel foto Katherine Fleitas 680px

From Colombia’s Avant-Garde theatre to Toronto’s after-hours service industry, Liliana puts a face and a name to the refugee experience. Liliana weaves her experiences of forced displacement, arrival, and her journey as an artist in Canada, with the  plays of controversial Colombian theatre-maker, and her director, Jose Manuel Freidel: an artist who fought against his society’s indifference toward injustice. Freidel was assassinated a few blocks away from his beloved theatre at the age of 39.

“Leaving my country of origin meant making a complete stop in my life as a theatre artist. Creating as an actor had always been vital for my identity and development as a person and as a woman. And then there I was, in a new world, charged inside with memories and images and with no means to express them, as I had done so before in my life.” – Liliana

A collective creation by Liliana Suarez Henao and Beatriz Pizano.

Toronto Premiere at the Progress Festival at the Theatre Centre, Jan.20-23, 2016

Nohayquiensepa (Nooneknows)

How do we deal with the death of strangers? Nohayquiensepa is a multidisciplinary presentation inspired by events in a Colombian river town on the fringe of great violence. A fresh integration of video, story, and movement through collaborative creation.


A powerful dance/theatre piece about the struggles of the indigenous women and the genocide of the Mayan nation in Guatemala between 1978 and 1984.