An NAC English Theatre presentation OIL AND WATER BY ROBERT CHAFE DIRECTED BY JILLIAN KEILEY An Artistic Fraud of Newfoundland (St. John’s) production

May 2, 2014 – OTTAWA (Canada) –A winner. An outstanding and compelling theatrical experience.” - The London Free Press

On February 18th, 1942, the USS Truxtun, along with the supply ship the USS Pollux, battered by a severe winter storm, were forced onto the rocks of the southeast coast of Newfoundland. Hundreds of men from both ships died. Among the survivors was an eighteen year-old African-American serviceman by the name of Lanier Phillips.

Closing out the 2013-14 English Theatre season, Oil and Water is a compelling true story of rescue, rebirth and salvation. Barely surviving a WWII shipwreck, U.S. sailor Lanier Phillips became the first black man to appear in St. Lawrence, Newfoundland. Long accustomed to racism back home, Lanier’s life was forever altered by the kindness and generosity of local residents.

Warmly embraced by rescuers from the Burin Peninsula towns of St. Lawrence and Lawn, Phillips often said the experience opened his eyes to a world beyond the harsh racism he encountered in the South.

Phillips went on to become the U.S. Navy's first African-American sonar technician and became an activist in the Civil Rights movement, marching alongside Dr. Martin Luther King. He vowed to do everything in his power to repay the kindness he had experienced, often re-visiting the community and eventually donating enough money to St. Lawrence for them to build a children's playground.  

Hopeful and haunting, bleak and beautiful, Oil and Water’s tale of transformation – of baptism, cleansing, and awakening – delivers a powerful dramatic punch.

“Oil and Water is devastating, fascinating, inspiring, unforgettable, must see play.” -  
The Chronicle Herald.

Featuring Anderson Ryan Allen, Neema Bickersteth, Petrina Bromley, Clint Butler, Starr Domingue, Mike Payette, Mark Power, Jody Richardson, Jeremiah Sparks and
Alison Woolridge.

The creative team includes: Director Jillian Keiley; Musical Director Kellie Walsh; Composer Andrew Craig; Set Designer Shawn Kerwin; Costume Designer Marie Sharpe; Lighting Designer Leigh Ann Vardy; Sound Designer and Operator Don Ellis; Technical Director Andrew J. Manera; Stage Manager Kai-Yueh Chen; Assistant Stage Manager Mark Denine and Tour/Production Manager Patrick Foran.

Oil and Water
May 14 - 31 NAC Theatre
Wednesday, May 14 and Thursday, May 15
Friday, May 16

Oil and Water Points of View:  
Saturday, May 17 at 12:45 p.m. in the NAC Salon
Experience this English Theatre production through an encounter with Associate Artistic Director Sarah Garton Stanley as she interviews two special guests who offer unique perspectives on the piece.

Wednesdays, May 21 and 28, and Thursdays, May 22 and 29.
Stay in your seats for a post-show question-and-answer session with artists from Oil and Water.

Performance Schedule:           
Tuesday through Saturday at 7:30 p.m.
Saturday matinees at 2 p.m.
(no performances on Sundays or Mondays.)

From $23 to $75

Tickets are available:

  • Online on the NAC’s website:
  • In person at the NAC Box Office
  • At all Ticketmaster outlets*
  • By telephone 1-888-991-2787*
    *A service charge applies on all purchases made through Ticketmaster.

Groups of 10 or more contact or visit


Find out more about the NAC English Theatre on Facebook and YouTube. To discover some fascinating facts about Oil and Water visit

Embassy Hotel & Suites is proud to be the Official Hotel Partner for the National Arts Centre English Theatre.

Ottawa Citizen is proud to be Media Partner for the Theatre Series.



Sean Fitzpatrick
Communications Officer
National Arts Centre English Theatre

613 947 7000, x389




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