Canadian Shipwreck Play: ‘Oil and Water’

Trolling through old shipwreck news this morning I cam across this review of Oil & Water, “a stylish, music-filled melodrama” recently performed at the Magnetic North Theatre Festival in Calgary. Written by Robert Chafe and directed by Jillian Keiley, Oil &Water apparetly memorized audiences at the festival.

Here’s the description from the play’s website:

Oil and Water is Artistic Fraud’s theatrical retelling of the incredible true story of Lanier Phillips. Shipwrecked aboard the USS Truxton in 1942, Mr. Phillips was the only African-American survivor. What happened to this son of the racially segregated south at the hands of the residents of the nearby town of St. Lawrence, NL forever altered his world. Featuring an a capella score that blends the Newfoundland folk tradition with African-American gospel, this legendary story still resonates powerfully almost 70 years later.

Here’s a bit more about the shipwreck scene:

Let’s look at the shipwreck sequence itself. Phillips and his crew, being tossed around amidst the chaos on his sinking ship, is intercut with Violet in Newfoundland, calmly doing the laundry in the washtub. All the while, the chorus in the back sings an ever-mounting a capella rendition of “Wade in the Water”.


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