Kat Lanteigne and Dmitr Chepovetsk in a scene from Tainted.
Tainted has been on the road for three days now, encountering enthusiastic, emotional and well-informed audiences in Hamilton, London and Windsor. Next week there will be six more performances in Toronto, Kingston, Ottawa and Thunder Bay. Two special performances will take place in a committee room at Queen’s Park and in the Center block of the Canadian Parliament.
Tainted tells the story of the fictional Steele family, which playwright Kat Lanteigne imagines to be living in a modest working-class house near Hamilton. The three sons in the story are hemophiliacs; the play opening with 12-year old Leo at summer camp getting instructed how to self-infuse his Factor 8 from his older brother while rehearsing a speech that will profess his love for the camp’s 22-year old lifeguard.
For Leo, he didn’t see his love coming, and neither did the family see the tsunami that was about the overtake them as that life-sustaining Factor 8 turns out to be contaminated with Hepatitis C and HIV.
The roller coaster of a play charms us in the early going as we get to know the Steeles – then ramps up as the inevitable tragedy unfolds.
It’s been more than two years since we said goodbye to the staff and donors of Canadian Blood Services’ Thunder Bay plasma collection centre. October 30 we will be returning there again as part of a unique cross-province campaign to keep our blood system safe.
OPSEU is proud to sponsor the upcoming tour of Tainted by playwright Kat Lanteigne. A performed reading of the play will take place in seven Ontario cities October 18-30: Toronto, Ottawa, Hamilton, London, Windsor, Kingston, and Thunder Bay. All readings will be free to the public, but tickets should be reserved in advance. It will also be performed directly at Queen’s Park and in the center block of the Canadian Parliament to MPPs, MPs and their staff. Those attending the Ontario Health Coalition Action Assembly weekend will also be treated to a performance of the play on the evening of Saturday, October 18.
To secure a seat, please go to http://moyotheatre.com/tainted-tour/
Tour dates and locations are at the end of this post.
Behind the issue
In 2012 CBS said it had a surplus of plasma and no longer needed the Thunder Bay clinic which collected more than 10,000 units per year. We noted at the time that CBS coincidentally was increasing its imports of plasma from the United States by 10,000 units. That includes plasma from individuals who were paid for their donation, a practice that remains controversial.
We were in for another surprise shortly after CBS shuttered its Thunder Bay clinic.
A generation has passed since more than 30,000 Canadians became infected with HIV and hepatitis C through the blood system. According to the Canadian Medical Association Journal, Justice Horace Krever’s 1997 report on the tragedy is considered to be one of the most influential reports on public health in Canadian history.
The CMAJ notes that two aspects of Krever’s recommendations transcended the blood system and have influenced broader health care policy – the adoption of the precautionary principle and a governance system that prioritizes safety.
A recent proposal to set up a series of privatized plasma collection sites across Canada using paid donations has raised questions as to whether those two principles continue to be applied. Surprisingly, Canadian Blood Services has itself played down any potential threats to both the health risks of paid donation and its own ability to compete for donors.
Given expectations around Health Canada’s decision whether to license the private collection centres, Moyo Theatre has emerged with a timely cultural intervention.