In 1942 the USS Truxtun, a ship carrying over a hundred sailors, ran aground on the Burin Peninsula in Newfoundland, killing most of its men. Oil and Water is the incredible true story of the sole African American survivor of the wreck, Lanier Phillips, the first black man to be seen by some of the residents of the town of St. Lawrence. A haunting and hopeful tale of two cultures, Oil and Water is an honest legend that still resonates with power seventy years later.
Robert Chafe is a writer, educator, actor, and arts administrator based in St. John’s, Ktaqmkuk (Newfoundland). He has worked in theatre, dance, opera, radio, fiction, and film. His stage plays have been seen in Canada, the United Kingdom, Australia, and in the United States, and include Oil and Water, Tempting Providence, Afterimage, Under Wraps, Between Breaths, and The Colony of Unrequited Dreams (adapted from the novel by Wayne Johnston). He has been shortlisted twice for the Governor General’s Literary Award for Drama and he won the award for Afterimage in 2010. He has been a guest instructor at Memorial University, Sir Wilfred Grenfell College, and the National Theatre School of Canada. In 2018 he was awarded an honorary doctorate from Memorial University. He is the playwright and artistic director of Artistic Fraud.
Chris Brookes is an author, storyteller and independent radio producer whose documentary features have won over forty international awards including the Peabody Award and the Prix Italia, and have been broadcast around the world.
He has directed documentaries for Canadian network television, is a published author and playwright, and has taught documentary storytelling at festivals and workshops across North America and Europe. As a sound artist, his audio art has been exhibited at international festivals and released on CD. He was formerly artistic director of the Mummers Troupe Theatre of Newfoundland and pioneered the use of theatre as a vehicle for community development. He has also produced radio drama for CBC.
He has been inducted to the Nfld & Labrador Arts Hall of Fame, holds an honorary doctorate from Memorial University of Newfoundland, and is a recipient of the Order of Canada.
Brookes currently directs the production company Battery Radio with studios at the bottom of the cliff where Marconi received the first trans-Atlantic wireless message in St. John's, Newfoundland.
"Script and storyline are touching and poignant." —The Telegram, St. John's
“Oil and Water is devastating, fascinating, inspiring, unforgettable…” —Andrea Nemetz, The Chronicle Herald
“Robert Chafe’s play is poetic, lyrical, and careful in developing the various stories so that when they mesh, the juxtaposition is transformative.” —Lynn Slotkin, The Slotkin Letter
“Magic in the theatre is rare to witness and hard to describe, but that indeed is what’s happening [with] Oil and Water. . . . You will be transformed by this story which manages to combine the familiar with the unexpected, the simple with the complex and the carefully structured with the seemingly spontaneous.” —Richard Ouzounian, The Toronto Star
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