What makes Chimera so compelling is that Wendy Lill has lived almost all the roles the play dramatizes: NDP critic for both culture and persons with disabilities, she came to politics after a career in community health care and as a reporter for the CBC.
This play arose from her experience as one of the parliamentarians who passed a Canadian law in 2004 concerning human reproductive technologies. She recalls being at a conference where a spokesman for a pharmaceutical company boasted about the array of new pre-diagnostic tests being developed to detect anomalies in fetuses. ?I was sitting in this room with many people with disabilities and I realized that what he was saying is that quite possibly a lot of these people would not be around today. They wouldn't have been born. ”
The ethics of stem-cell research?in particular the creation of crossspecies ?chimeras,” the mixing of genetic material from humans and animals, is a hotly debated topic with political, scientific, moral and spiritual dimensions. While such experiments could hold the key to curing many diseases, to their detractors they conjure up everything from visions of divine retribution to sci-fi nightmares from B-grade horror films. To explore this controversy, Lill created a chimera of her own: a hybrid play that’s part Parliament Hill exposé, part examination of the efforts to regulate genetic engineering.
Playwright and politician Wendy Lill has written extensively for radio, magazines, film, and television. Her work has resulted in two ACTRA awards, a Golden Sheaf award (for her film Ikwo), a Chalmers award, a Gemini award, a New York Festivals Radio Program and Promotion Award, and four nominations for the Governor-General’s Literary Award for Drama (The Occupation of Heather Rose, All Fall Down, The Glace Bay Miners’ Museum, and Corker.) Chimera, her first play since leaving politics, premiered at the Tarragon Theatre. She created and was head writer for the award-winning CBC Radio series Backbencher.
Lill was born in Vancouver in 1950. She grew up in London, Ontario then completed a B.A. in political science at Toronto’s York University in 1970. She worked for nearly a decade in Toronto while pursuing her passion for writing part-time, before accepting full-time work in Winnipeg as a writer for CBC (Canadian Broadcasting Corporation) radio in 1979. Lill remained in Winnipeg for nearly ten years, and during this time she began writing plays and developed a productive association with Prairie Theatre Exchange and its artistic director, Kim McCaw. In 1988, Lill moved to Dartmouth, Nova Scotia, to continue to write for the theater, as well as pursue her political ambitions. She is a co-founder of the Eastern Front Theatre Company in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia (1993). Lill was elected as a Member of Parliament (NDP) for Dartmouth in 1997 and was re-elected in 2000 for a second term.